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More Americans Want Leaders to Compromise on Fiscal Cliff

More Americans Want Leaders to Compromise on Fiscal Cliff

PRINCETON, NJ -- Americans have become even more convinced over the past week that government leaders in Washington should compromise on their principles and beliefs on tax increases and spending in order to reach an agreement that avoids the "fiscal cliff" on Jan. 1. Now, 70% say leaders should compromise, up from 62% last week.

Trend: Preferences for U.S. Government Leaders' Action on Fiscal Cliff

The new data are based on interviewing conducted Dec. 8-9, serving as a weekly update on key questions about the fiscal cliff that Gallup began asking last week.

President Barack Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner met at the White House on Sunday, but there has yet been no announcement of a negotiated agreement to avoid the mandated sequestration of government funds for defense and other federal spending, and the increase in tax rates for most taxpayers.

Seventy-three percent of Democrats want their leaders to compromise, little changed from 71% last week. But Republicans and independents express more widespread interest in compromise than they did last week -- with Republicans moving from 55% to 67% in favor of compromise, while independents moved from 61% to 70%.

Trend: Preferences for U.S. Government Leaders' Action on Fiscal Cliff, by Party ID

Optimism About Fiscal Cliff Little Changed

Americans remain more optimistic than pessimistic about the likelihood that a solution to the fiscal cliff situation will be reached before Jan. 1 -- with 59% saying such a solution is very or somewhat likely. This is essentially the same level of optimism that Gallup found the first time it asked the question.

Trend: Expectations for Fiscal Cliff Agreement

Obama Retains Highest Approval Ratings on Handling Situation

Americans continue to give higher approval ratings to the way President Obama is handling the fiscal cliff negotiations than they give to the Democratic leaders or the Republican leaders in Congress. However, Obama's approval rating on handling the negotiations is down slightly from last week, while the approval ratings for the other two have remained essentially the same.

Trend: Ratings of U.S. Government Leaders' Handling of Fiscal Cliff Negotiations

Overall, Obama's approval rating on handling the negotiations remains almost twice as high as that of the Republican leaders in Congress -- suggesting that the president continues to have the upper hand in his ongoing discussions with Republicans Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Bottom Line

Americans' interest in their elected leaders in Washington seeking compromise and not doggedly adhering to principle in the fiscal cliff negotiations has accelerated over the last week. A dwindling 18% of Americans believe that leaders should stick to their principles and beliefs on tax increases and spending cuts, while seven in 10 say leaders should compromise their principles and beliefs in order to get an agreement.

The average American has not given up hope that the "cliff" will be avoided; about six in 10 say it is likely that a settlement will be reached before the Jan. 1 deadline.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking Dec. 8-9, 2012, with a random sample of 1,069 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cellphone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cellphone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, population density, and phone status (cellphone only/landline only/both, cellphone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2011 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

View methodology, full question results, and trend data.

For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit

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