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Americans less optimistic about budget negotiations

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As the federal government braces to go over the so-called fiscal cliff, many Americans said they aren't too confident that Congress and President Barack Obama can work together to reach a budget agreement.

According to Gallup, 48 percent of Americans are doubtful that a budget agreement can be made before Jan. 1, a change from three weeks ago when the majority of Americans said they were confident the government could avoid the fiscal cliff. This latest update is based on Gallup Daily tracking conducted Dec. 21 and Dec. 22. The poll shows Americans are increasingly confident in the various Democratic players involved in the negotiations, including Obama, Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

A majority of Americans, 54 percent, approve of Obama's handling of the crisis, up from 48 percent the previous week. Meanwhile, public approval of congressional Democratic leaders' performances rose 11 percentage points to 45 percent, while Reid's approval rating rose 10 percentage points to 34 percent.

There has been no significant change in ratings of Republican leaders, or those of Republican House Speaker John Boehner.

Despite the holidays, 34 percent of Americans reported they follow news of budget negotiations "very closely." However, the overall percentage following budget news very or somewhat closely remains close to 60 percent. Just a little over a third of Americans are paying little or no attention to the negotiations.

Gallup found Americans want to see leaders come to some sort of an agreement on the budget and avoid the fiscal cliff.

"Americans remain consistent in their desire to see leaders compromise on their budget-oriented principles and beliefs rather than risk failing to reach an agreement by sticking to those principles," according to Gallup. "Roughly two-thirds continue to prefer that leaders compromise, while less than one-quarter prefer that they take a more hard-line stance."