Dec. 13, 2010— -- With decisive votes in Congress pending, Americans in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll broadly support the tax-and-benefits deal forged by President Obama and Republican leaders of Congress -- the deficit be damned.
Sixty-nine percent support the package overall, far outnumbering the 29 percent opposed. And even when given arguments that it'll add as much as $900 billion to the federal budget deficit, 62 percent continue to support the measure, with opposition inching up to only 34 percent.
The package underscores both the charm and challenge of political compromise. Several of its individual elements are sharply divisive, and on average they score better with Republicans than with Democrats. But in combination the package appeals across the political spectrum; with nose-holding on both sides, it gets as much support from liberals as from conservatives, and nearly as much from Democrats and independents as from Republicans.
What it lacks, though, is passion; perhaps given its something-for-everyone nature, this poll, produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates
While support is broad, its tepid nature in part reflects skepticism that the changes will do much to improve the long-troubled economy. Just 36 percent think it'll help, including only 9 percent who think it'll help a great deal. That leaves six in 10 who either don't think the deal will have much economic impact at all (43 percent), or fear it'll make things worse (17 percent). Strong support for the package is higher among those who think it'll improve the economy.
THE PARTS -- The deal, as noted, is more popular than the sum of its parts. Of its four chief elements, only one -- extending unemployment benefits -- wins as much support individually (72 percent) as do all the elements in combination. Another, indeed, elicits majority opposition: Perhaps given concerns about the future of Social Security, 57 percent of Americans oppose a 2 percent cut in Social Security payroll taxes.