Washington (CNN) - Most Americans say that a federal government shutdown would be bad for the country, according to a new national poll.
But a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey also indicates that Democrats and Republicans don't see eye to eye on the issue, and self-described Tea Party movement supporters say such a shutdown, even for a long period of time, would be a good thing. The poll's Tuesday release came just before the House of Representatives voted to continue funding the federal government for three weeks, a major step towards temporarily avoiding a possible government shutdown.
Full results (pdf)
Nearly six in ten people questioned in the poll say that it would be a bad thing for the government to shut down for a few days because Congress did not pass a new spending bill, with 36 percent saying it would be a good thing for the country. And if a government shutdown lasted a few weeks, that figure would rise to 73 percent.
"But Republicans think a shut down that lasts a few days would be a good thing. And a majority of Tea Party supporters approve of a shutdown even if it lasts several weeks," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "That puts pressure on House Speaker John Boehner and other GOP leaders to take a step which might hurt their standing with independents as well as some Republicans."
The survey indicates wide partisan differences on the issue, with only 21 percent of Democrats saying a shutdown for a few days would be a good thing. That figure rises to 35 percent for independent voters, 53 percent for Republicans, and 62 percent for Tea Party supporters.
What about a government shutdown for a few weeks?
Nine percent of Democrats, 26 percent of independents, 39 percent of Republicans, and 52 percent of Tea Party supporters say a shutdown for a few weeks would be good for the country.
The Senate is expected to follow the House in passing another three week extension in government funding, which would give Congress until April 8 to either reach a deal for the rest of the 2011 fiscal year, which ends September 30, or pass another extension to avoid a federal government shutdown.
President Barack Obama and congressional leaders all say that no one wants a shutdown, but the parties remain far apart on how to approach both the immediate need to authorize government spending for the next six months and the long-term need for budget reforms that reduce the deficit and national debt.
Before the vote Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, predicted that the budget extension would pass in his chamber, but he did acknowledge mounting opposition from conservative Republicans.
Some leading national Tea Party groups and other conservative organizations have come in recent days in opposition to the budget extension, calling for increased budget cuts and urging GOP lawmakers not to compromise with Democrats. A growing number of conservative House and Senate Republicans, many elected with support from Tea Party activists, have said over the past few days that they will vote against the bill.
If a government shutdown does occur, who would be held responsible?
The survey indicates that 46 percent of the public thinks the Republicans in Congress would be more responsible for the shutdown than President Barack Obama, with 37 percent holding Obama more responsible. But by a 47 to 43 percent margin, Americans say they prefer the GOP's approach to the budget over the president's budget policies.
The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted March 11-13, with 1,023 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.
CNN Congressional Producer Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report
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