These Two Charts Show Why Republicans Don't Actually Have As Much Debt Ceiling Leverage As They Think They Do

On Monday, President Barack Obama said that he wouldn’t negotiate with Republicans on the debt ceiling, comparing it to a hostage situation. House Speaker John Boehner immediately shot back, saying the “American people do not support raising the debt ceiling without reducing government spending at the same time.”

But a new ABC/Washington Post poll suggests that Boehner doesn’t have as much leverage on that sentiment as he might think.

In the poll, 58 per cent of respondents said that the debt ceiling and spending cuts should be kept as separate issues. Only 36 per cent thought that spending cuts should be tied to the debt ceiling.

Here’s a chart from Langer Research, the firm that conducted the poll:

Debt ceiling

Photo: Langer Research

There are more reasons why this debt-ceiling debate could also be different than last time. Obama is coming off re-election, and he is much more popular than he was in the summer of 2011.

During the last debt-ceiling crisis, Obama’s approval rating was stuck underwater. Right now, it stands at its highest point since his first year in office (aside from an uncanny bounce after Osama bin Laden’s death). 

Meanwhile, Congress’ approval rating sits at just 19 per cent — tied for its lowest since 1975. That’s probably why people “trust” the President more to handle raising the debt ceiling and reducing federal debt by a whopping 14-point margin.

Here’s a chart that shows the continued trend down in Congressional approval:

Debt ceiling

Photo: Langer research

See why Obama won’t let the debt ceiling be used as leverage >

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