December 11, 2013

Lawmakers compromise on budget deal — and that’s what the public says it wants

61%

About six-in-ten of Americans say they want lawmakers to be more willing to compromise on budget issues even if it meant they “reached a deal you disagreed with.”

While it’s far from the “grand bargain” on the budget President Obama wanted to strike with Republicans, House and Senate negotiators agreed Tuesday on a deal that would end for now the cycle of partisan standoffs such as the one that led to October’s government shutdown.

The agreement has already drawn criticism from some conservative Republicans and still must be approved by Congress, but in reaching an agreement that would break the cycle of budget crises, negotiators were doing what the public has long said it wanted — to see lawmakers be willing to compromise.

About six-in-ten (61%) of Americans said in a poll conducted in October that they wanted lawmakers who shared their views on the issues leading up to the shutdown to be more willing to compromise even if it meant they “reached a deal you disagreed with.”  That sentiment was also reflected in polls in September and in March-April 2011, during a period when Republicans and Democrats were in a standoff over whether to raise the nation’s debt ceiling.

About three-in-ten (29%) of Americans said lawmakers should stand by their principles even if that meant “the government shutdown continues.”

Substantially more Democrats (67%) supported the idea of compromise than did Republicans, who were divided at 46% each on whether lawmakers should stand their ground or accept a deal they disagreed with.

But while the public supports the idea of compromise as a general principle, the number of those willing to back down is lower when it comes to specifics, according to the October survey. When Republicans demanded in the standoff leading to the shutdown that any budget deal include cuts or delays to the health care law, 58% of Democrats said it would be unacceptable for President Obama to agree. Roughly the same share of Republicans (54%) said it would be unacceptable for GOP leaders to agree to any deal that did not include cuts or delays to the health law.

Category: Daily Number

  1. Photo of Bruce Drake

    is a Senior Editor at the Pew Research Center.

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