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New polls have bad news for the GOP when it comes to the so-called “fiscal cliff.”

The public is more interested in the budget negotiations than any other news story—even the Petraeus sex scandal, according to a recent PEW survey.

Americans have also decided in advance who will be to blame if the budget negotiations fail and we enter 2013 without a deal to avoid across-the-board tax increases and spending cuts—the GOP.

According to a new CNN poll, 45 percent of Americans say they will blame the Republicans–compared to the 34 percent who would blame President Obama. That margin of 11 percent is nearly four times the edge that gave the president his re-election. And 53 percent have an unfavorable view of the Republican Party.

Why is the public so prone to blame Republican members of the House and Senate?

Maybe they’ve been paying attention.

Indeed, 7 out of 10 say the GOP has not done enough to compromise with the president. They made stonewalling their strategy in 2009 and have basically not any made exceptions since — except when they were tricked into doing so. A vast majority of Republicans in Congress have signed Grover Norquist’s pledge that basically means they’re unwilling to compromise—though some senators have started to back away from that once-firm commitment.

Voters also agree with Democrats on the issues — 56 percent say taxes on the wealthy should be kept high. And even Republicans agree by an 8-percent margin that any deal should include tax increases along with spending cuts.

“77% believe that their personal financial situation will be affected if the government goes off the fiscal cliff,” said CNN polling director Keating Holland.

Four years of Republicans hyping the fear that the deficit will personally hurt individual Americans has been effective. But, as The New York Times‘ Paul Krugman writes, “…the clear and present danger to the American economy isn’t that we’ll fail to reduce the deficit enough; it is, instead, that we’ll reduce the deficit too much.”

The president has the upper hand in the negotiation and the GOP’s weakness is demonstrated by the fact that they have a member of the losing Republican ticket on their negotiating team.

But will that be enough? Can this GOP say “yes” to a deal that doesn’t punish the middle class? If past is prologue, the odds aren’t good.

Photo credit: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir.

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