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A Pew Research Center poll released on Tuesday sheds some light on why a disturbing number of right-wing congressmembers don’t believe that the federal government should raise the debt ceiling: They are accurately representing the feelings of their constituents.

The poll finds that 51 percent of Americans believe that it is “absolutely essential” that the federal debt limit be increased before the Thursday deadline, at which the U.S. would be at risk of defaulting on its debt. Just 36 percent believe that Congress can go past the deadline.

A majority of Republicans disagrees with the conclusions of just about every reputable economist, however… 52 percent of Republicans — and 56 percent of self-described conservatives — say that the U.S. can go past the deadline without major economic consequences.

Among Republicans who self-identify as Tea Partiers, a startling 69 percent believe that the government doesn’t need to raise the debt limit by October 17 — and a 52 percent majority says that the debt limit doesn’t have to be raised at all. Ever.

Half of Tea Party Republicans Say Debt Limit Does Not Ever Need to be Increased

Needless to say, economists — and credit agencies — disagree.

Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that the same folks who believed that “skewed” polls were hiding the truth about the 2012 elections now believe that nothing will happen if Congress decides not to pay the government’s bills. But if Congress can’t reach a deal to raise the debt ceiling, the consequences this time will be far more dire than a few mea culpas from Fox News.

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