While 51 percent of those surveyed by the Pew Center for People & the Press and The Washington Post said there will be no agreement by the Jan. 1 deadline, only 38 percent predicted there would be one. The Republicans, who control the House, the Democrats, who have a majority in the Senate, and President Obama must agree on a deficit-reduction plan to avert a package of automatic across-the-board spending cuts and tax hikes that will total hundreds of billions of dollars.
More than half of respondents -- 53 percent -- said Republicans in the House are more responsible for the situation, which many fear would plunge the nation back into recession if not carefully resolved, than Obama. Only 29 percent blamed the president.
There were sharp partisan differences. Republicans were less optimistic about an agreement by a 66 percent to 25 percent, and 68 percent said Obama would be responsible.
Among Democrats, 47 percent predicted an agreement and 40 percent did not, while 85 percent said Republicans should take the blame. More than half, 51 percent, of independents do not expect an agreement, while 37 percent do not, and 53 percent said they would blame Congress.
More than half, 62 percent, said the cuts and tax hikes would be bad for the U.S. economy, and 60 percent said it would hurt them personally. But only 26 percent said they understand exactly what would happen.
Pew interviewed 1,000 adults by telephone Nov. 8-11. The margin of error is 3.7 percentage points for the whole sample, ranging up to 7.1 percent for Republicans among sub-groups.