Poll: Americans split on shutdown blame game
April 5th, 2011
10:14 AM ET
3 years ago

Poll: Americans split on shutdown blame game

Washington (CNN) – Americans are divided over whether President Barack Obama or congressional Republicans would shoulder more of the blame if there's a government shutdown later this week, according to two new national polls.

A Washington Post poll released Monday indicates that 37 percent of the public says Republicans in Congress would be more to blame for a shutdown of some government services and offices, with an equal amount saying the Obama administration would be more at blame, and 15 percent saying both sides would equally shoulder the blame.

A Pew Research Center survey also released Monday has almost identical numbers. Thirty-nine percent of people questioned in the Pew poll say congressional Republicans would be more at blame, with 36 percent saying the Obama administration, and 16 percent saying both sides would be blamed.

The numbers in the Washington Post and Pew surveys are little changed from polls they conducted earlier this year.

The polls' release comes just a couple of days before current funding for the government runs out. If there is no budget agreement between congressional lawmakers by Friday, some government programs and offices may shut down.

Fifty-six percent of people questioned in the Pew poll say they want federal lawmakers to be more willing to compromise, even if it means they pass a budget they disagree with, while only 36 percent say members of Congress should stand by their principles, even if it leads to a shutdown.

The survey indicates a partisan divide, with half of Republicans saying lawmakers should stand by their principles. Meanwhile 53 percent of independent voters and nearly seven in ten Democrats say lawmakers should compromise to prevent a shutdown.

The Washington Post poll indicates that by a two to one margin, Americans say the Republicans in Congress are playing politics rather than honestly trying to solve the budget impasse. By a 51 to 43 percent margin, the public feels the same way about the Obama administration.

The survey suggests a growing disillusionment among Republicans, with four in ten now saying congressional Republicans are playing politics rather than trying to avoid a government shutdown. That's up 13 points from earlier this year.

The Washington Post poll was conducted March 31-April 3, with 1,008 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

The Pew Research Center poll was conducted March 30-April 3, with 1,507 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

–Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn


Filed under: Budget • Government Shutdown • Polls
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Jon

    Man. Why would anyone blame the shutdown on Obama? It's not like the Republicans haven't been angling for this since the day he got elected.

    April 5, 2011 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  2. Rudy NYC

    This poll asks the wrong question. You should ask if people are worried about what happens if there is a shutdown. People are more concerned about fixing the inevitable meltdown a shutdown would create than they are over assigning blame. The shutdown may not occure this time, but it will occur. It is just a matter of time.

    April 5, 2011 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  3. gt

    americans can handel bad news were not children.. just lay out what needs to be done... dont close your eyes and say these cuts arent needed....

    April 5, 2011 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  4. Foue and The Door

    The Democrats are apparently doing a fabulous and effective spin job to make their reluctance to cut spending as anything but the reason for not getting a budget agreement. America needs to cut government spending now. Yes, it has reached that point and most Americans have acknowledged that yes, we are in trouble.

    But don't underestimate the Democratic Party's talent at The Big Spin. They are very very good.

    April 5, 2011 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  5. Rudy NYC

    Is this how the GOP meets the campaign promise that creates jobs? Layoff almost the entire federal work force, and then hire them back. Thousands and thousands of jobs created, BLINK, you missed it, just like that.

    No, of course not. That suggestion is ridiculous and meant to be satirical. I say let them continue as they are. Just remember, the only legislation that comes before Congress must start in the Republican controlled House.

    April 5, 2011 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  6. mgc florida

    How about if americans actually do some research instead of listening to the talking heads! what a concept actually educate yourselves instead of letting others tell you what to think!

    The dumbing down of american continues.

    April 5, 2011 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  7. Sniffit

    Yes, and poll results also show that 100% of the "news" media wants desperately to play the blame game if there is a shutdown.

    April 5, 2011 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  8. Debbie from Arizona

    If the government shuts down, I place the blame squarely on the Republicans for pandering to the Tea Party folks. If you aren't willing to compromise on anything, what do you suppose will happen. I'm am really tired of this garbage. The Tea Party wants it their way or not at all, well their way is unacceptable to me, and I'd venture to say the majority of Americans.

    April 5, 2011 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  9. TOM

    "with four in ten now saying congressional Republicans are playing politics rather than trying to avoid a government shutdown" WHATS NEW?

    April 5, 2011 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  10. Obamacare = Romneycare v1.01

    It's actually very easy to assign blame. If one side refuses to compromise ... it's their fault and their fault alone. In this case we can blame the Tea Bag-Republican Party.

    April 5, 2011 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  11. Rudy NYC

    Our economy, like any business, depends upon cash flow. Like the blood in your body, the flow keeps the body strong by bring nutrients to areas that need it. Any leak, decrease in flow, or outright blockage could prove to be very damaging if not fatal to both your body and the economy.

    That is in part why we have the Fedeal Reserve. The public banking system is one part of the circulatory system that makes up our economy. Banks can be cause of impediments to the flow. They can also serve as the pumps to keep the flow moving. Banks have recently served as pumps, it was called the bailout. It came from the Federal Reserve. It is the "lender of last resort".

    Bailouts should be the last resort, not the first option. Unfortunately, it was used as a first option at time when another means to keep the flow moving may not have the immediate effect that was claimed to be needed. The other option is to use what is known as the "employer of last resort".

    This employer would be the government; federal, state and local. It was this employer that pulled the US through the Great Depression and so far it has been this employer that has kept us from falling into another. Many of the proposed cuts would be slce deeply into the work force employed by the "employer of last resort".

    Such cuts would be good and a desireable thing if the flow were moving along strongly enough on its' own. It is not there yet, as most any economist would tell you. Enacting this plan could be disastrous.

    April 5, 2011 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  12. LIP

    They keep this up and pretty soon Congress will have the same low approval rating as the last two years of the Bush days when congress was controlled by the Democrats...their approval rating was something like 12%...remember those days when the country went in the tank and everything crashed...I can still hear Nancy saying she would do all she could to destroy Bush and I guess we were collateral damage.

    April 5, 2011 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  13. Sniffit

    "Ask Japan how clean and safe nuclear power is. You can't even turn a nuclear power plant off."

    Yeah...soooo much easier turning off an oil well that's gone out of control. Did you sleep through the past 2 years?

    April 5, 2011 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  14. Angie

    This is the administration's fault – fair and square. They did not even have a budget, for goodness sake. Now that the GOP in congress is forcing to have one (as they should), the democrats are scrambling and don't know what to do. Shame on them.

    April 5, 2011 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  15. Dave

    1. The Democrats are completely at fault. THEY HAD 2 YEARS of a majority to do these budgets and never did.

    2. Now the Republicans own the House and were voted in on ONE MAIN MADATE: Cut government, cut spending, cut the deficit.

    They do those things, jobs get created, mush more than raising taxes and spending more.

    It is mind numbing how idiotic the left is being on this. It is very simple (regardless of what they tell you):

    We can not spend 100's of billions MORE than we have coming in. It is just like your household budget. Raising taxes (finding more income) is not the long term answer. Spending within our means is the answer.

    April 5, 2011 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  16. bj123

    This budget should have been finished last year. Why could the democrats not complete this when they had complete control.

    April 5, 2011 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  17. ConservaFascists/FUBAR

    The blame will rest on republicans if the government shutsdown. They don't inderstand what the word COMPROMISE means. All they say is "give me, give me, give me." They are trying to implement the same type of middle class breaking cuts that these radical fascists republican governors are trying to implement. WHERE IS THE SHARED SACRIFICE????

    April 5, 2011 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  18. Sarah B.

    Balancing the budget and cutting the deficit is hard work. Anyone who tells you differently is lying or crazy. BOTH sides will have to make compromises, BOTH sides will have to take the heat for those cuts. Politics is not a zero-sum game. The president has proven that he is willing to compromise (tax cuts) where is the compromise from the other side????

    April 5, 2011 11:54 am at 11:54 am |