They Just Don't Trust the Experts

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
July 19 2011 9:12 AM

They Just Don't Trust the Experts

Yesterday's Pew poll exposes, one more time, the biggest problem for negotiators who want Republicans to accept a debt deal. Republican voters, and many of their representatives, simply don't think the world will end if the limit isn't raised. And they're bolstered by independents whose trust in government has been cratering for years.

Pew asked voters if raising the limit by August 2 was "essential to avoid a crisis" or if the date could be passed "without major problems." By a 23-point margin, Republicans said the date could be hit, and passed, with no problems. The margin grows to 45 points with Tea Party supporters. And the reason the overall number is a split is that, by a nine-point margin, independents agree with the Republicans.

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Why don't they believe that this is a mounting problem? Look at the poll numbers for the people warning about default -- banks, big business, newspapers, the president. This is why even committee chairman like Darrell Issa can say things like "we should not be having a discussion with a artificial deadline of August 2nd, set by the President so the President can extort a deal through his reelection period."

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.