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CNN Poll: Majority says raise debt ceiling

By Paul Steinhauser, CNN Political Editor
updated 1:33 PM EDT, Wed October 2, 2013
  • Americans don't think tying Obamacare to debt ceiling hike a good idea, CNN/ORC poll
  • Nation's ability to borrow more money to pay its bills expires in mid-October
  • Survey indicates a majority of the public would blame Republicans if debt ceiling not increased
  • President Barack Obama said he will not negotiate with Congress on debt ceiling

(CNN) -- Surveys indicate that most Americans didn't think shutting down the government in an attempt to dismantle the new health care law was a good idea.

They apparently feel the same way about blocking an increase in the nation's debt ceiling to stop Obamacare, according to a new national poll released on Wednesday.

A CNN/ORC International survey also indicates that a majority of the public would point fingers at Republicans in Congress if the nation's ability to borrow more money is not increased.

With the federal government shut down due to a bitter partisan standoff over spending and the Affordable Care Act, an even more chilling deadline is approaching.

The government faces a debt ceiling crunch around October 17, when it expects to run out of options to keep below the legal cap on federal borrowing.

Congressional Republicans have signaled they want to use this issue to again go after Obamacare, which would set up a new fight with Senate Democrats and Obama, who says he won't negotiate.

According to the poll, 56% of Americans said it would be a bad thing if the debt ceiling was not raised, with 38% saying it would be a good thing for the country.

By a 51% to 43% margin, the public said it is more important to raise the debt ceiling than to delay Obamacare.

A larger majority, 64% to 27%, in a Quinnipiac University survey released Tuesday said they opposed blocking an increase in the debt ceiling as a way to dismantle the health care law.

If the debt ceiling is not raised, just over half of those questioned in the CNN poll, 53%, said congressional Republicans would be more responsible rather than Obama, with 31% pointing more fingers at the president.

Those numbers are little changed from July 2011, the last time Obama and Congress fought over the debt ceiling, which was eventually raised.

As with the battle over the government shutdown, the poll indicated that Democrats and Republicans don't see eye to eye over raising the debt ceiling.

"Most Republicans think that it would be a good thing for the country if the debt ceiling is not raised, but only 18% of Democrats agree," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Among most other major demographics groups, failure to raise the debt ceiling is seen as a bad thing."

"You have bipartisan consensus among economists that not raising the debt ceiling would be a disaster, but politically you have a divide. Yes, more people say raise the debt ceiling and fight the health care debate somewhere else, but you have Republican lawmakers going home, most of them to safe Republican districts. And they're being told by many of their constituents not to worry about it ,' you don't have to raise the debt ceiling'," CNN Chief National Correspondent John King said.

The survey also indicates independents are split.

"Here's a sales problem for the president. Even among independents, a pretty even divide on whether raising the debt ceiling is a good or bad thing," King added.

The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International September 27-29, with 803 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

What do you think? Here's your chance to weigh in below.

Which do you think is more important for Congress to do?

Raising the debt ceiling to make sure the government has enough money to pay its debts

Delaying the date on which major provisions in the new health care law will take effect

Or are both equally important?

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