As the president and congressional leaders continue negotiations to avoid the “fiscal cliff” deadline at the end of the year, the public is skeptical that President Obama and congressional Republicans will reach an agreement.

About half (51%) who were polled in Nov. 8-11 — before Obama’s first meeting with leaders from Capitol Hill — say the two sides will not reach an agreement, while just 38% say they will. If no deal is reached, more say that congressional Republicans would be more to blame than President Obama (53% vs. 29%).

This stands in contrast to public opinion in July, 2011 when the White House and Congress faced a similar deadline over raising the federal debt ceiling in order to avoid a government default. During those negotiations, 56% of Americans believed a deal would be reached while 38% did not.

The long standoff between Republicans and Democrats over the debt ceiling issue last year caused a decline in public approval ratings for Obama and congressional leaders of both parties, although the Republicans took the biggest hit. Read More

Russell Heimlich  is a former web developer at Pew Research Center.