Most area residents think 'fiscal cliff' will be averted
Mike Dabadie, president and managing partner with Heart + Mind Strategies
WASHINGTON - Most Washington area residents believe the White House and Republicans in Congress will reach an agreement to avert the fiscal cliff, but they strongly want lawmakers to compromise, according to a new WTOP Beltway Poll.
Nearly four in five (78 percent) of those surveyed say they would prefer that lawmakers compromise, even if that means reaching a deal that includes things the voter doesn't like.
Only one in five (19 percent) say they would like lawmakers who share their views to stand by their principles, even if that means no deal.
The poll, conducted by Heart + Mind Strategies, finds that 87 percent of Democrats support compromise, compared to 75 percent of Independents and 65 percent of Republicans.
Six in 10 residents (57 percent) believe President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans will reach agreement to prevent automatic spending cuts and tax increases from going into effect before Jan. 1.
That's a more optimistic view than Americans nationwide. A Washington Post-Pew Research Center Poll released this week found that 40 percent believe an agreement will be reached, compared to 49 percent who don't think an agreement will be reached.
In the Washington area, the WTOP Beltway Poll finds that D.C. residents are the most optimistic there will be an agreement (68 percent), compared to their neighbors in Maryland (56 percent) and Virginia (55 percent).
Across the region, Republicans are the most skeptical of a deal. Fifty-three percent believe an agreement will not be reached, compared to 29 percent of Democrats and 43 percent of Independents.
The latest Washington Post-Pew Research Center Poll suggests more Americans will blame congressional Republicans if the White House and lawmakers don't take care of the fiscal cliff.
The WTOP Beltway Poll finds that 57 percent believe the country will go into a recession if a deal isn't reached, while 39 percent don't believe that will happen.
Virginia residents are the most likely to say a recession could take place (63 percent), compared to residents of Maryland (55 percent) and D.C. (42 percent).
A major sticking point in the fiscal cliff negotiations is the continuation of the George W. Bush era tax cuts.
Obama wants to extend the cuts for individuals who make $200,000 a year or less, and couples who make $250,000 or less.
The president put forth a budget plan that calls for $1.6 trillion in higher taxes over the next ten years.
A plan by Republicans calls for $800 million in tax reform, which GOP members say would come from closing tax loopholes and cutting deductions.
Six in 10 (58 percent) D.C. region residents want to see the George W. Bush era tax cuts extended for another year.
Only one in three (34 percent) want Obama and Congress to let them expire.
A stark contrast appears when the numbers are broken down by party line.
Fifty-one percent of Democrats want to see the tax cuts extended, while 75 percent of Republicans want to see the same.
"Republicans overwhelmingly believe that if these tax increases go into effect, it's going to have a detrimental effect on the economy," says Mike Dabadie, president of Heart and Mind Strategies.
While more than 60 percent of residents are aware of what's at stake if a deal is not done by Jan. 1, less than 30 percent understand how they will be affected as individuals, the poll shows. This is especially true when it comes to those under 35 years old.
"Younger voters in our region do not necessarily see as much of a personal negative impact on them if the Bush tax cuts are not extended," Dabadie says.
Editor's Note: The D.C. metro phone survey was conducted by Heart+Mind Strategies among 550 adults age 18 and over, between Nov. 26 and Nov. 29, 2012. This included representative samples of 200 people in Virginia (Arlington, Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, Prince William, Spotsylvania, Stafford) 250 in Maryland (Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles, Frederick, Montgomery, Prince George's and 100 in D.C. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.2 percent.
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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)