WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — Americans are pessimistic that lawmakers will reach a “fiscal cliff” deal – and far more are prepared to blame congressional Republicans.

Forty percent of respondents in a recent Pew Research Center poll expect that the president and congressional Republicans will reach a deal by Jan. 1 to prevent automatic tax increases and spending cuts from taking effect. However, 49 percent say they will not.

If no deal is reached, far more say congressional Republicans would be more to blame (53 percent) than President Obama (27 percent). These opinions are nearly unchanged since early November.

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press and The Washington Post was conducted between Nov. 28 and Dec. 2 among 1,003 adults. Democrats continue to be much more optimistic about prospects for a fiscal cliff compromise than either Republicans or independents. A majority of Democrats (55 percent) expect Obama and congressional Republicans will reach an agreement before Jan. 1 to prevent the automatic tax increases and spending cuts. Just 37 percent of independents and 22 percent of Republicans say an agreement will be reached.

Most Americans feel like they have only a dim understanding of what might happen if the automatic spending cuts and tax increase go into effect. Only 28 percent say they understand the consequences very well, while 29 percent understand them fairly well. These impressions also have shown little change in recent weeks.

Regardless, the public continues to see dire consequences – both for the nation’s economy and themselves – if the government goes over the fiscal cliff.

While more say the nation’s economy (64 percent) than their own finances (43 percent) would be greatly affected, roughly six-in-ten say the impact would be negative for both the economy generally (60 percent) and their own personal finances (61 percent).

Republicans and Democrats continue to have very different expectations for the negotiations aimed at forestalling the automatic spending cuts and tax increases.

Democrats overwhelmingly say that Republicans in Congress would be more to blame if an agreement is not reached (77 percent). A smaller majority of Republicans (62 percent) say Obama should bear more of the blame if no deal is made.


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