By JENNIFER AGIESTA and LAURIE KELLMAN, Associated Press

Americans are plenty angry at Congress in the aftermath of the debt crisis and Republicans could pay the greatest price, a new Associated Press-GfK poll suggests.

The poll finds the tea party has lost support, Republican House Speaker John Boehner is increasingly unpopular and people are warming to the idea of not just cutting spending but also raising taxes — anathema to the GOP — just as both parties prepare for another struggle with deficit reduction.

To be sure, there is plenty of discontent to go around. The poll finds more people are down on their own member of Congress, not just the institution, an unusual finding in surveys and one bound to make incumbents particularly nervous. In interviews, some people said the debt standoff itself, which caused a crisis of confidence to ripple through world markets, made them wonder whether lawmakers are able to govern at all.

“I guess I long for the day back in the ’70s and ’80s when we could disagree but we could get a compromise worked out,” said Republican Scott MacGregor, 45, a Windsor, Conn., police detective. “I don’t think there’s any compromise anymore.”

The results point to a chilly autumn in Washington as the divided Congress returns to the same fiscal issues that almost halted other legislative business and are certain to influence the struggle for power in the 2012 elections. They suggest that politicians, regardless of party, have little to gain by prolonging the nation’s most consequential policy debate. And they highlight the gap between the wider public’s wishes now and the tea party’s cut-it-or-shut-it philosophy that helped propel Republicans into the House majority last year.

The survey, conducted Aug. 18-22, found that approval of Congress has dropped to its lowest level in AP-GfK polling — 12 percent. That’s down from 21 percent in June, before the debt deal reached fever pitch.

The results indicate, too, that the question of trust remains up for grabs — a sign that the government’s stewardship of the economy over the next year will weigh heavily on the fortunes of both parties in the elections. Republicans and Democrats statistically tied, 40 percent to 43 percent respectively, when respondents were asked which party they trust more to handle the federal budget deficit. Nearly a third of independents said they trust neither party on the issue.

Much about the next election hinges on independent voters, the ever-growing group fiercely wooed by campaigns for years. These respondents, the poll found, were the least forgiving toward incumbents and shifted substantially toward the need to raise taxes as part of the deficit and debt solution.

Among them, 65 percent say they want their own House representative tossed out in 2012, compared with 53 percent of respondents generally.

This group, too, is helping fuel the shift toward raising taxes as a way to balance the budget. The poll found that among independents, 37 percent now say that increasing taxes should be the focus of the fiscal dealmakers, over cutting government services. That’s up nine points from March, the poll found.

The backlash was personal, too. Boehner, the congressional veteran from Ohio who struggled to win enough members of his own party to pass the debt deal, won approval from 29 percent of the poll’s respondents. That’s the lowest such level of his tenure and also the first time his rating is more negative than positive. Forty-seven percent of Republican respondents said they approve of Boehner; only a fifth of independents have a favorable opinion of him.

The tea party, too, took a hit, according to the poll. Unfavorable views of the tea party have climbed 10 percentage points since November, when they fueled the Republican resurgence. Of those, 32 percent have a deeply unfavorable impression of the movement and just a quarter of respondents say they consider themselves supporters of the tea party — the lowest in AP-GfK polling and a dip of 8 percentage points since June.

Overall, 87 percent disapproved of Congress’ performance. Entrenched partisanship explained some of the discontent.

“They’re so committed to their personal ways, and party’s way, that they are having a hard time finding a middle road,” Republican Frank Chase, 77, a military retiree from Hopkinton, Mass., said of both sides.

Democrat Laurie Lewis, a Rutgers University professor from Flemington, N.J., agreed with that much. “Elect those who are willing to make compromise on both sides of the hall,” she said. Still, “I don’t think it’s smart to say throw out everyone.”

On budget and debt policy, the poll finds a public warming to the idea of using tax increases to help solve the fiscal crisis, a potential boon to President Barack Obama and the congressional Democrats who want to end Bush-era tax breaks for the nation’s wealthiest Americans. Republicans bristle at anything called a tax increase, though some acknowledge that more revenue must be raised.

It’s perhaps the most difficult issue of the debate and carries tremendous influence over the nations’ economic future and the political fortunes of the candidates next year, when the presidency and the House and Senate majorities are at stake. The problem now rests on the shoulders of a dozen House and Senate members named to a supercommittee that will spend the fall digging into the morass that the broader Congress couldn’t solve.

Asked which should be the main focus of lawmakers trying to solve that problem, raising taxes or cutting government services, 53 percent of respondents said cutting services and 34 percent said increasing taxes. That’s a shift toward raising taxes since March, when 29 percent said increasing taxes and 62 percent said cutting services.

Since then, more Democrats and independents have shifted toward taxes as a means of balancing the budget, while Republican views on the question have not moved, according to the poll. Half of Democrats polled said raising taxes should be the focus over cutting services, up 10 percentage points from March. Independents showed a clear preference for cutting services over raising taxes in March, 64 percent to 28 percent. Now, only 42 percent of independents say focus on cutting services while 37 percent say increase taxes, according to the poll.

Overall, 57 percent of respondents believe both that that taxes will rise and government services will be cut in order to balance the federal budget.

The poll was conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications. It involved landline and cell phone interviews with 1,000 adults nationwide and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

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Associated Press writers Ken Thomas, Kasie Hunt and Stacy Anderson, and News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius, contributed to this report.

Poll results: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com

 

 

How the poll was conducted

The Associated Press-GfK Poll on Congress and the budget was conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Corporate Communications from Aug. 18-22. It is based on landline and cellphone telephone interviews with a nationally representative random sample of 1,000 adults. Interviews were conducted with 700 respondents on landline telephones and 300 on cellular phones.

Digits in the phone numbers dialed were generated randomly to reach households with unlisted and listed landline and cellphone numbers.

Interviews were conducted in both English and Spanish.

As is done routinely in surveys, results were weighted, or adjusted, to ensure that responses accurately reflect the population’s makeup by factors such as age, sex, education and race. In addition, the weighting took into account patterns of phone use — landline only, cell only and both types — by region.

No more than one time in 20 should chance variations in the sample cause the results to vary by more than plus or minus 4.1 percentage points from the answers that would be obtained if all adults in the U.S. were polled.

There are other sources of potential error in polls, including the wording and order of questions.

The questions and results are available at http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com .

 


 

AP-GfK poll shows voter distaste for Putin-style leadership
WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump has called Russian President Vladimir Putin “a leader — unlike what we have in this country.”

But most Americans don’t agree with Trump’s assessment of Putin’s leadership skills, a new Associated Press-GfK poll shows.

Only 24 percent of registered voters say Putin has leadership qualities that would be good for an American president to share, while 71 percent say he does not. In fact, a majority, 56 percent, said they have an unfavorable view of Putin, while only 10 percent said they view the Russian leader favorably.

 Voters were split on whether Trump would be too close to Putin, with 42 percent saying they think Trump would be too close, and 41 percent saying his approach would be about right. Fourteen percent think he would not be close enough.
By comparison, most voters (53 percent) think Democrat Hillary Clinton’s relationship with Putin would be about right, while 11 percent think she would be too close and 32 percent think she would not be close enough.

The relationship between the Republican nominee and the Russian strongman began taking on new life when Putin praised Trump last December as “bright and talented” and “the absolute leader of the presidential race.”

The billionaire businessman hailed Putin’s regard for him as a “great honor,” brushing off widespread allegations that the Russian president has ordered the killing of political dissidents and journalists.

“Our country does plenty of killing also,” Trump told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” in December.

Four in 10 Trump supporters and only 1 in 10 Hillary Clinton supporters say Putin has leadership qualities that would be good for an American president to have. Still, even among Trump’s supporters, just 16 percent have a favorable opinion of Putin. Only 5 percent of Clinton’s supporters do.

Marissa Garth, a 28-year-old stay-at-home mom from Smithfield, Utah, said she plans to vote for Trump this November because he exhibits the qualities of a strong leader — not to be compared with Putin.

“I think (Putin) is a strong leader for his country,” she said. “But at the same time I don’t think he necessarily has the qualities that I would want as a president.”

In fact, the poll finds that men are more likely than women to say that Putin has leadership qualities that would be good in an American president, 28 percent to 19 percent.

Among Clinton’s supporters, 69 percent say Trump would be too close to Putin. Forty-nine percent of those supporting another candidate share that view, but only 8 percent of Trump supporters say their candidate would be too close to Putin. Eighty percent of Trump supporters say his approach would be about right. Among conservatives, 20 percent say Trump would be too close to Putin.

There is nothing 54-year old Gary Sellers, of Homewood, Illinois, likes about Putin — or Trump. He called Putin a “dictator,” adding, “there are no qualities of his that I wish that an American president would have.”

A lukewarm Clinton supporter, he’s concerned that Trump shares Putin’s extreme views of governing. “I feel he has a dictatorial approach toward being president of the United States,” Sellers said of Trump.

Forty-seven percent of voters say they approve and 52 percent disapprove of President Barack Obama’s handling of the U.S. relationship with Russia.

Voters are divided over whether the next president should take a tougher approach to Putin (42 percent) or whether the current approach is about right (39 percent). Just 16 percent think the next president should take a friendlier approach.

Just under half of voters (48 percent) say the U.S. relationship with Russia is a very or extremely important issue, ranking it low on Americans’ list of priorities, far below issues like the economy (92 percent), the threat posed by the Islamic State group (70 percent), the U.S. role in world affairs more generally (68 percent) and immigration (60 percent).

There’s a generational divide over Russia. Two-thirds of voters age 65 and over and more than half of those between 50 and 64 call the U.S. relationship with Russia very or extremely important, while only 4 in 10 30-49 year olds and only a third of those under 30 say the same.

Generally speaking, voters are more likely to say they trust Clinton than Trump on negotiating with Russia, 40 percent to 33 percent. Nineteen percent say they trust neither and 7 percent trust both equally.

John Eppenger, 68, a retiree in Fairfield, Ala., said that when it comes to dealing with Russia, Clinton would “do a much better job than Trump. She’s not perfect, she’s not ideal, but she’s better.”

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The AP-GfK Poll of 1,694 adults, including 1,476 registered voters, was conducted online Sept. 15-19, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, and for registered voters is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t have access to the internet were provided access for free.

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Online:

Poll results: http://ap-gfkpoll.com


AP-GfK Poll: Majority of Americans fear Trump presidency

By JONATHAN LEMIRE and EMILY SWANSON

NEW YORK (AP) — More than half the country fears a Trump presidency. And only about a third of Americans believe he is at least somewhat qualified to serve in the White House.

In the final sprint to Election Day, a new Associated Press-GfK poll underscores those daunting roadblocks for Donald Trump as he tries to overtake Hillary Clinton.

Moreover, most voters oppose the hard-line approach to immigration that is a centerpiece of the billionaire businessman’s campaign. They are more likely to trust Clinton to handle a variety of issues facing the country, and Trump has no advantage on the national security topics also at the forefront of his bid.

Trump undoubtedly has a passionate base of support, seen clearly among the thousands of backers who fill the stands at his signature rallies. But most people don’t share that fervor. Only 29 percent of registered voters would be excited and just 24 percent would be proud should Trump prevail in November.

Only one in four voters find him even somewhat civil or compassionate, and just a third say he’s not at all racist.

“We as Americans should be embarrassed about Donald Trump,” said Michael DeLuise, 66, a retired university vice president and registered Republican who lives in Eugene, Oregon. “We as Americans have always been able to look at the wacky leaders of other countries and say ‘Phew, that’s not us.’ We couldn’t if Trump wins. It’s like putting P.T. Barnum in charge. And it’s getting dangerous.”

To be sure, the nation is sour on Clinton, too. Only 39 percent of voters have a favorable view of the Democratic nominee, compared to the 56 percent who view her unfavorably. Less than a third say they would be excited or proud should she move into the White House.

“I think she’s an extremely dishonest person and have extreme disdain for her and her husband,” said one registered Republican, Denise Pettitte, 36, from Watertown, Wisconsin. “I think it would be wonderful to elect a woman, but a different woman.”

But as poorly as voters may view Clinton, they think even less of Trump.

Forty-four percent say they would be afraid if Clinton, the former secretary of state, is elected, far less than say the same of Trump. He’s viewed more unfavorably than favorably by a 61 percent to 34 percent margin, and more say their unfavorable opinion of the New Yorker is a strong one than say the same of Clinton, 50 percent to 44 percent.

That deep distain for both candidates prompts three-quarters of voters to say that a big reason they’ll be casting their ballot is to stop someone, rather than elect someone.

“It’s not really a vote for her as it’s a vote against Trump,” said Mark Corbin, 59, a business administrator and registered Democrat from Media, Pennsylvania.

Roughly half of voters see Clinton at least somewhat qualified, while just 30 percent say Trump is.

Even when it comes to what may be Clinton’s greatest weakness, the perception that she is dishonest, Trump fails to perform much better: 71 percent say she’s only slightly or not at all honest, while 66 percent say the same of Trump. Forty-nine percent say Clinton is at least somewhat corrupt, but 43 percent say that of Trump.

“Whatever her problems are, they don’t even come close to him,” said JoAnn Dinkelman, 66, a Republican from Rancho Cucamonga, California, who will cross party lines and vote for Clinton. “Everything that comes out of his mouth that is fact-checked turns out to be a lie.”

Trump finds no respite with voters when it comes to what he vows to do as president, either.

Nearly 6 in 10 oppose his promise to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, and only 21 percent of his supporters and 9 percent of registered voters overall are very confident he would succeed at fulfilling his promise that Mexico would pay for the construction.

Six in 10 believe there should be a way for immigrants living in the country illegally to become U.S. citizens — a view that Trump opposes.

“The wall isn’t the answer. It’s not feasible and Mexico won’t pay for it,” said Timothy Seitz, 26, a graduate student at the Ohio State University and a Republican. “We should be leaders. We shouldn’t cower from others and cut ourselves off in the world.”

Beyond immigration, voters say they trust Clinton over Trump by wide margins when it comes to health care, race relations and negotiations with Russia. She also narrowly tops Trump when it comes to filling Supreme Court vacancies, as well as another of the billionaire’s signature issues: handling international trade.

Trump is narrowly favored on creating jobs, 39 percent to 35 percent, while in general, voters are about equally split on which candidate would better handle the economy. Voters are slightly more likely to trust Trump than Clinton on handling gun laws, 39 percent to 35 percent.

Voters are closely split on which candidate would better handle protecting the country and evenly divided on which would better handle the threat posed by the Islamic State group. And Americans are much more likely to say they trust Clinton than Trump to do a better job handling the U.S. image abroad.

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The AP-GfK Poll of 1,694 adults, including 1,476 registered voters, was conducted online Sept. 15-19, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, and for registered voters plus or minus 2.7 points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t have access to the internet were provided access for free.

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Online:

Poll results: http://ap-gfkpoll.com