NBC/WSJ Poll: OK, Default Would Be Bad

July 19, 2011 11:45 a.m.

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll being released on Tuesday shows that a majority of Americans now agree that yes, defaulting on U.S. debt obligations would be a serious problem.

Previous polling had shown not only that raising the debt ceiling itself is unpopular, but that Americans were shaky on the impact of inaction. A recent Pew Research poll, conducted from July 15th to the 17th, showed 39% rejected the idea that the August 2nd deadline was a serious issue at all, with only 40% saying it would cause a major economic crisis, and the rest not sure of either.The new NBC/WSJ poll finds that 55% of Americans believe that not raising the debt ceiling will cause “a real and serious problem.” Even more striking is that previous opposition to recognizing the possible drastic consequences of default is dissipating, with only 18% of respondents continuing to say the economy could make it past the deadline unscathed. But that smaller base of opposition could be heavily influencing the debate, The Journal reports:

Republicans who continue to maintain that the government can avoid defaulting on its debts even with no increase to the borrowing limit might be listening to their core tea-party supporters. Of voters who identify themselves as tea-party supporters, one-third say failing to lift the ceiling would present no significant problems. But even in this group, a plurality, 47%, say it would be a serious issue.

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