That's more than I thought would support allowing the sequester to go through, but 49% say they should delay the cuts.
More ominously, only 31% would blame Obama for the sequester while 49% would tag the GOP as the culprits.
And if the president and Congress cannot reach a deficit reduction agreement before the deadline, 40% of Americans say it would be better to let the automatic spending cuts go into effect, while 49% say it would be better to delay the cuts. Both Republicans and independents are divided evenly over which approach is better, and even among Democrats, roughly a third favor letting the sequester take effect over any delays.
The new survey, conducted Feb. 13-18, 2013 with 1,504 adults nationwide, is the first in a collaboration between the Pew Research Center and USA TODAY. It finds that, as with previous conflicts over the debt ceiling and fiscal cliff, Obama holds the upper hand politically over congressional Republicans. If there is no deficit deal by March 1, 49% say congressional Republicans would be more to blame while just 31% would mostly blame President Obama.
Moreover, 76% say that the president and Congress should focus on a combination of spending cuts and tax increases to reduce the budget deficit. Just 19% agree with the current Republican position that tax increases should be off the table.
And while Obama's 51% job approval rating is down slightly from a post-election high of 55%, it remains well above the 25% approval rating for GOP congressional leaders. The job rating for Democratic leaders is higher (37%), though more disapprove (55%) than approve of their performance.
Fully 70% of those surveyed believe it is "essential" for Congress and the president to pass deficit reduction legislation. Compare that number to other administration priorities:
There are many liberal Democrats who have been against reducing the deficit at all, Paul Krugman being the most prominent. Those numbers would appear to give the GOP an advantage on the deficit - one they are not taking advantage of. They have failed to adequately explain the sequester, how they tried to avoid it, and why the president's stubborness on taxes is the cause of it.