Santa Claus exists—he's bringing President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney presents this year—but he might be cutting back on gifts thanks to the "fiscal cliff," according to a lighthearted new survey released Monday by Public Policy Polling (PPP).
More Americans put Romney than Obama on Kris Kringle's "nice" list: 63 percent said the former Massachusetts governor would get presents, versus just 51 percent for the president, PPP found.
Respondents gave Mommy quite a bit of latitude should she be caught smooching Saint Nick: 43 percent would tell Daddy, 40 percent would not, and 17 percent weren't sure.
If Grandma were to be run over by a reindeer, the poll suggested the jolly fat man might get away with it: 61 percent said they would not press charges; just 24 percent said they would. There was a slight partisan split on that question, with 33 percent of Democrats saying they'd take Father Christmas to court, compared with 19 percent of Republicans.
By a 52-45 percent ratio, respondents professed to believe in Santa, and 80 percent said they were on his "nice list." Just 11 percent fessed up to belonging in the "naughty" column of the ledger.
And 44 percent said Santa was a Democrat, against 28 percent who said he was a Republican. (No word on whether the elves are, or should be, unionized or protected by OSHA's workplace safeguards.)
With Washington abuzz with talk about going over the "fiscal cliff" come Jan. 1, 54 percent of voters said they worried that the package of automatic tax hikes and government spending cuts might lead Santa to cut back.
The most popular seasonal movies? It's "A Wonderful Life," with 22 percent, just ahead of "A Christmas Story," at 20 percent. "Scrooged" got 3 percent. (What? No "The Ref"?) The most annoying holiday song? "The Chipmunk Song" ran away with the category, with 36 percent, versus 13 percent for "Santa Baby." (Apparently, "Whatever they're playing as I stand in the gift-return lines on Dec. 26" did not chart.)
Santa won the category of "most plausible holiday-specific character," with 52 percent, well ahead of second-place leprechauns at 19 percent and Cupid at 17 percent.
Americans did less well in identifying the number of days in Hanukkah: Just 32 percent came in with the correct eight-day figure, while 18 percent each came up with seven days or 12 days.
The poll queried 500 registered voters from Dec. 5-7 and had an error margin of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.