I submit this as proof to the PoliticsPA crew, following up on our Twitter conversation from a few weeks ago, that voters don’t know what the debt ceiling is.
If voters actually had any idea what the debt ceiling was, or the slightest understanding of how catastrophic it would be to crash through it, they would not oppose debt ceiling hostage-taking less than government shutdown hostage-taking:
PA-15 voters opposed using a shutdown to block Obamacare 60% to 33% and opposed using the debt limit to do the same, 53% to 34%.
Crashing the global economy would obviously be many orders of magnitude worse than a US government shutdown, but voters don’t know what the debt ceiling is so they’re more blasé about it.
My argument was that MoveOn’s choice to poll the term “borrowing limit” instead of “debt ceiling” was a better way to get at voters’ opinions of the underlying issue, since nobody knows what the debt ceiling is, and “borrowing limit” is a somewhat better descriptor. The PoliticsPA crew thought debt ceiling was a common enough term in politics that it’d be better to poll “debt ceiling”, since people are likely to have some established opinions about that issue. My counterargument was that nobody knows what the debt ceiling is, so any variance in the polling between “borrowing limit” and “debt ceiling” was going to be a reflection of widespread confusion about what debt ceiling is, and the superior descriptive powers of “borrowing limit.” I’m proved fucking right, but I don’t know what this proves beyond the need for the “neutral” press to do a much better job of communicating the debt ceiling stakes.