Yet voters are paying attention. Pew found 40 percent are paying very close attention to this debate, on par with past budget and tax battles (although a little less than the 2011 debt ceiling debate). More say they are following this issue “very closely” than nearly any other budget or tax issue Pew has tracked since 1992. And while only about a quarter say they understand the issue “very well,” this is actually higher than with other issues Pew has tested.
But perhaps most troubling of all these patterns: Voters are more pessimistic now than during the debt ceiling crisis. Half now predict there will be no deal, while more than half were optimistic in July 2011, according to Pew tracking. Even worse, CNN found two-thirds of voters say elected officials will act more like “spoiled children” than “responsible adults.”
There is a chance for lawmakers to exceed voters’ expectations. Let’s hope they take it. Collaboration and a tax increase for high earners are the most popular ways forward.
Margie Omero is founder and president of Momentum Analysis, a Democratic polling firm. Many years ago, she was a Roll Call intern.