This memorandum summarizes findings from a survey among 1,000 likely voters nationwide. Interviews were conducted between September 29 and October 2, 2012. The Margin of Error is +/- 3.1% and higher for subgroups.

Voters are very concerned about the impact of the fiscal cliff.

Today, 53% have heard a “great deal” or “some” about the impending budget challenge known as the fiscal cliff.  Among those familiar with the fiscal cliff issue, 60% are at least very concerned, with one-quarter of likely voters (25%) saying they are extremely concerned. At 64%, voters in Swing States are more concerned than likely voters overall.

During the course of the survey, we provided voters with balanced information about the fiscal cliff:

“In January 2013, several tax cuts will end, including the payroll and income tax cuts. In addition federal spending will be reduced in every department. Economists predict that these measures will reduce the federal budget deficit, but also could lead to another recession.”

Upon hearing more about the issue, 64% of likely voters overall say they are “very concerned” or “extremely concerned” about its impact.  Concern is high across party, with 73% of Republicans, 60% of independents, and 59% of Democrats saying they are concerned. Sixty-eight percent (68%) of voters in swing states are also very or extremely concerned about the issue’s impact.


Voters are disappointed in Washington’s handling of the fiscal cliff, and feel that the campaigns have not adequately addressed the issue.

Voters strongly disapprove of the job that Congress has done in addressing the fiscal cliff, a belief that extends across party lines.  Eighty-one percent (81%) of likely voters overall disapprove, with more than half (56%) saying they “strongly disapprove.” This level of intensity is mirrored among Democrats, Republicans, independents, and Swing State voters: 81%, 81%, 82%, and 83%, respectively, express disapproval.

Likely voters also agree that Congress and the current presidential campaigns have done little to address such an important issue.

They want campaigns to provide them with more information about their approach to addressing the fiscal cliff.  Greater partisan differences exist on voters’ opinions of the campaigns’ involvement than that of Congress. Seventy-four percent (74%) of voters say that the current presidential campaign has not done enough to inform them of their plans to address the issue.  Even more (82%) feel that congressional candidates have not provided adequate information.


Voters believe that partisan gridlock and special interests are primary causes of the crisis, and expect a bipartisan solution.

More than 4 in 5 likely voters (88%) agree that the fiscal cliff problem was caused by both parties, and regardless of who wins the election, Democrats and Republicans will have to work together to fix it. Ninety percent (90%) of Democrats, 87% of Republicans, 89% of independents, and 87% of Swing State voters also believe this is the case.

When asked about the cause of the current problem, more than half of voters (54%) say the parties’ political gridlock in Washington makes it hard to compromise, suggesting a bipartisan solution is easier said than done. An additional quarter of voters (25%) point to pressure by special interest groups as hampering Congress’ ability to pass an effective deficit reduction plan.

Nearly all likely voters agree (94% total agree) that both parties’ inability to work together will lead to avoidable problems. They also believe that the fiscal cliff can only be solved with bipartisan cooperation (88% total agree).