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Most Americans see debt ceiling as 'serious problem'—poll

NBC News/WSJ poll released new data

On the debt limit—a critical element of Washington's current fiscal impasse—the message from both the White House and Wall Street has clearly gotten through, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows.

Fully 63% of Americans call failure to raise the nation's debt limit "a real and serious problem," while just 15% said it would not be. The remainder say they're unsure or don't know enough to have an opinion.

A staffer sets up signs before the start of a press conference with the Senate Democratic Caucus on the Capitol steps, October 9, 2013. The caucus will highlight the negative impact of the government shutdown and called on House Republicans to reopen the entire government and pay the bills on time.
Douglas Graham | CQ Roll Call | Getty Images

(Read more: Government Shutdown)

That solid wall of concern explains why House Republican leaders within the last day or so have distanced themselves from tea party Republicans who have downplayed the issue, and signaled they will move legislation raising the debt limit at least for a short time as the White House and business groups have requested.

House leaders were to meet with President Obama and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on the issue this afternoon.

The NBC/WSJ telephone survey of 800 adult was conducted Oct. 7-9, and carries a margin for error of 3.46 percentage points. Full results of the survey will be posted at 6:30 p.m. ET this evening.