Public Lukewarm on Cliff Deal, But Obama Bests Boehner

Charles Dharapak/AP Photo

Americans give a lukewarm response to last week's agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff, albeit with higher marks for the deal to President Obama than to House Speaker John Boehner.

More people in this ABC News/Washington Post poll approve than disapprove of the agreement, but just by a 7-point margin, 45 to 38 percent, with a substantial 17 percent undecided. Moreover, intensity is on the negative side: "Strong" critics of the deal outnumber its strong proponents by 2-1.

See PDF with full results, charts and tables here.

At the same time, Obama gets majority approval for his handling of the negotiations, 52-37 percent, while Boehner's score is reversed - just 31 percent approve of his performance on the cliff talks, while 51 percent disapprove. Boehner's positive score is up 6 percentage points from a month ago, but remains a broad 21 points behind the president's.

Among those who favor the agreement, twice as many approve of Obama's handling of the negotiations than Boehner's, 86 vs. 43 percent. Indeed, this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, finds that Boehner lacks majority approval for his work on the fiscal cliff talks from any group. And while Obama breaks even on intensity of sentiment, strong approval of Boehner's performance falls to the single digits.

Tellingly, among Democrats, 81 percent approve of Obama's handling of the talks, including 44 percent who approve "strongly." But among Republicans, Boehner gets just 38 percent approval overall, and a mere 10 percent strong approval.

The inclusion of tax increases for high-income Americans is likely a factor. People who describe themselves as "very" conservative are negative across the board - 67, 66 and 57 percent, respectively, disapprove of the deal, Obama's work on it and Boehner's role as well. Boehner gets roughly the same level of disapproval from very conservatives as he does from liberals.

Political independents, for their part, split about evenly on the deal itself and on Obama's handling of negotiations, but most disapprove of Boehner's performance.

Approval of the deal itself surpasses disapproval among groups including women, nonwhites and lower- to middle-income adults. Men, whites, seniors, college grads and those with $50,000-plus incomes are more evenly divided.

Still, as noted, strong criticism of the deal surpasses strong support, 25 percent vs. 12 percent. That's largely because strong disapproval jumps to 50 percent among very conservatives, 45 percent among Republicans and 40 percent among people in the $100,000-plus income bracket.

METHODOLOGY - This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cell phone Jan. 2-6, 2013, among a random national sample of 1,000 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 4 points. The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by SSRS/Social Science Research Solutions of Media, Pa.