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Poll Shows Americans Divided Over Who Should Take the Lead in 2011

President Obama

President Obama on the South Lawn of the White House. Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

When it comes to who they want setting the agenda next year in the 112th Congress, Americans are just about evenly split between President Obama and lawmakers supported by the Tea Party, according to a new USA TODAY/Gallup poll.

The survey, released Monday, reveals 28 percent say President Obama should have the most influence on government policy next year, compared to 27 percent who say Tea Party leaders in Congress should take the lead. Republican congressional leaders, meanwhile, are the choice of 23 percent of respondents, followed by their Democratic counterparts at 16 percent.

“The results reflect the strength of the Tea Party movement as the GOP prepares to take control of the House of Representatives in January,” writes USA TODAY’s Susan Page.

The poll also finds a fair share of skepticism about how much of an impact the new Republican majority will have when it assumes control of the House of Representatives in January. Nearly 40 percent say the change won’t make a difference, while 37 percent say it will improve things in the country. About one in five believes GOP control will make things worse.

The survey also looked at the top priorities of the lame-duck Congress, such as the extension of the federal income tax cuts passed under former President George W. Bush that are set to expire at the end of the year. More than 80 percent say it is either very important or somewhat important to extend “some form” of the tax breaks.

Forty percent say all the cuts should be extended, but 44 percent want to see limits put on wealthy Americans. Thirteen percent want to see all the tax breaks expire.

2012, ALREADY?

Although the 2010 midterms are barely behind us, it’s never too early to start looking forward to the next election.

A Quinnipiac University poll released Monday shows voters are not inclined to give President Obama a second term.

Forty-nine percent of Americans say the president does not deserve to be re-elected, while 43 percent say he does.

The survey also tested potential Republican challengers in 2012.

President Obama runs in a statistical dead heat against former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (44 percent-45 percent) and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (46 percent- 44 percent).

The president leads former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin 48 percent to 40 percent.

The poll finds that support for the president among Democrats remains strong. Sixty-four percent say they don’t want to see another Democrat challenge the president for the nomination, while 27 percent respond they would like to see a challenge from within the party.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN

Speaking of Palin, the former governor and vice presidential candidate has new book out Tuesday and she’s launching her tour of it in Phoenix.

The 16-city tour of “America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag” runs through Dec. 3. A look at the locations of some of the tour stops gives the impression of a dry run for a presidential campaign.

Palin will visit the key early caucus state of Iowa twice: Nov. 27 in West Des Moines and Dec. 2 in Spirit Lake.

On the final day of the tour she’ll hit Columbia, S.C., another state that comes early in the GOP nominating process, and Cincinnati, the battleground of all battleground states.

Palin will take a short break from her promotional trip for Thanksgiving, and the Morning Line will be doing the same.

Have a safe and happy holiday and we’ll see you next Monday.

For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

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