Optimism that President Barack Obama and congressional leaders will reach an agreement to avoid the looming fiscal cliff has waned over the past week, according to the results of a Gallup Daily tracking poll released Wednesday.
The poll showed that 50 percent of Americans think it is very or somewhat likely that Obama and leaders in Congress will reach a budget agreement before January 1st, down from 57 percent in a poll conducted a week earlier.
Meanwhile, 48 percent of Americans said an agreement is not too or not at all likely, up from 40 percent in the previous poll.
Gallup senior editor Lydia Saad wrote, "Americans' optimism that a budget compromise will be reached before New Year's dropped to 50%, the lowest yet seen."
"Still, this edges out the 48% who say a compromise is unlikely, suggesting Americans expect that the president and Congress will not let the worst-case scenario play out, but will instead use the few days remaining to hammer out a solution," she added.
The poll also showed that 54 percent of Americans approve of Obama's handling of the budget negotiations, up from 48 percent a week ago.
Democratic leaders in Congress also saw an 11 percentage point increase in approval of their handling of the negotiations to 45 percent, while approval of Republican leaders' handling of negotiations dropped to 26 percent from 29 percent.
Gallup noted that 68 percent of Americans want to see government leaders compromise on their budget-oriented principles and beliefs rather than risk failing to reach agreement by sticking to those principles.
The survey of 1,076 adults was conducted December 21st through 22nd and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Early last week, reports suggested that lawmakers were making progress toward an agreement to avoid the looming fiscal cliff.
However, optimism faded after House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, scrapped plans to hold a House vote on his "Plan B" legislation due to a lack of support among members of his own party.
The legislation would have extended the Bush-era tax cuts for people making up to $1 million, although Democrats claimed it would raise taxes on millions of working families by eliminating certain tax credits.
Following the failure of "Plan B," Republicans have attempted to put the pressure in the budget negotiations back on Obama and Senate Democrats.
Obama is heading back to Washington later on Wednesday after spending the holidays in Hawaii, but lawmakers will have only a few days to try to reach a budget agreement before the year-end deadline.
Unless an agreement is reached, approximately $600 billion in automatic tax increases and government spending cuts are due to go into effect at the end of the year.
by RTT Staff Writer
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