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Sat Mar 2, 2013, 06:09 PM

Public wary about sequester cuts, but Obama in stronger political position than GOP


With automatic, across-the-board spending cuts set to begin Friday, majorities of Americans believe that approach is not a good idea and also say the contentious budget negotiations make them less confident about the U.S. economy, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

Click here for full poll results (.pdf)

Despite those findings, a majority still supports Congress moving ahead with either the current cuts or a plan containing even more cuts as a way to reduce the deficit, suggesting the public’s general appetite for reducing spending.

But the poll also shows that as the nation’s political actors once again quarrel over these automatic cuts totaling $1.2 trillion over 10 years – commonly referred to as sequestration or the sequester – President Barack Obama finds himself in a much stronger position than his Republican adversaries.

“If the president needs some tweaks and adjustments, the Republican Party is pretty much in need of a major makeover,” says Democratic pollster Fred Yang of Hart Research Associates, who conducted this survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff.

NBC/WSJ poll: Public says GOP less interested in unity than Obama is

But by nearly a 3-to-1 margin, respondents conclude that the Republican Party is emphasizing partisanship more than unity.

In the poll, 48 percent say Obama is pursuing a path to unify the country in a bipartisan way, while 43 percent say he's taking a partisan approach that doesn't unify the country.

By comparison, 64 percent say the Republican Party is taking a partisan approach, versus 22 percent who say it's focused on unity.

As for the Democratic Party, a plurality of respondents -- by a 49 percent to 37 percent margin -- think it is emphasizing partisanship more than unity.

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