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CBS News Poll: GOP Fares Worst In Debt-Ceiling Fight

A new CBS News poll suggests that while none of the Washington political players gets the approval of a majority of voters for how policymakers are handling the debt-ceiling debate, congressional Republicans fare the worst.

The survey found only 21 percent of respondents approved of the actions of congressional Republicans while 71 percent disapproved.

That compares with President Obama's approval-disapproval ratings of 43 percent versus 48 percent.

For the record, congressional Democrats' approval-disapproval numbers were 31 percent versus 58 percent.

The CBS News survey lined up with a recent Gallup Poll that suggested that more voters support Obama's position that deficit reduction be achieved through a combination of tax revenue boosts and spending cuts instead of just spending cuts alone, which is the current Republican position in the debt-discussions.

The upshot of these polls is that they would appear to give Obama greater, if not decisive, leverage in his talks with congressional Republicans. They allow him to argue, with some justification, that the stage is set for Republicans to receive more of the blame if the unthinkable, a default, happens or a near default causes billions of dollars of losses in the financial markets.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, said as much last week when he warned of how a default would ruin the Republican brand for years to come.

On the other hand, House Republicans are arguably less concerned with where national opinion stands as much as they are with opinion in their congressional districts. That's where they will face primary challenges if they appear to buckle on spending and taxes.

And many of those districts are very conservative and, presumably, would show significantly higher support levels for congressional Republican position than the national results do.

The poll does say that 51 percent of Republicans disapprove of how Republicans have managed the debt-ceiling talks.

But that presumably takes into account Republicans in districts that represent the entire ideological spectrum. It would be interesting to know if the opinion of Republicans in the most conservative districts is closer to the stance we're seeing in the House.

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