Read the Poll That Convinces House Republicans They Can Win on the Debt Limit

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 4 2013 2:25 PM

Read the Poll That Convinces House Republicans They Can Win on the Debt Limit

This morning, Jennifer Rubin gave readers a taste of John Boehner's first pep rally for the new House Republican conference. "We’re releasing the results of a survey by the Winston Group taken December 29-30 among 1,000 registered voters," said the speaker. "Seventy-two percent of Americans agree any increase in the nation’s debt limit must be accompanied by spending cuts and reforms of a greater amount."

The Winston Group has been kind enough to provide me with the poll, posted here. It's got a reliable partisan and ideological sample -- 37 percent Democrat, 33 Republican. It includes a few take-your-medicine results that contradict Republican dogma. For example:

Screen shot 2013-01-04 at 2.50.35 PM

Republicans hate to think that's true. In context, though, it's a reminder that the worst is behind them -- that "revenue is over," and that Washington will now turn its staggering focus to spending. They start the debt ceiling fight with basically no movement since 2011. People still hear "debt ceiling" and say "don't raise that."

Screen shot 2013-01-04 at 2.46.50 PM

The Winston Group tested a dry version of the White House's argument for just raising the ceiling. It was in the negative zone, by 19 points.

Screen shot 2013-01-04 at 2.46.57 PM

But then comes the "Boehner rule." House Republicans want to raise the debt limit by some amount, but only with a commensurate amount of cuts.

Screen shot 2013-01-04 at 2.46.40 PM

This is a good starting point for the next Debtdammerung. Why do Republicans confidently say they have leverage to demand cuts for a debt limit hike? Because the poll says they do.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.