Polls give both sides ammunition in shutdown fight
September 18th, 2013
02:45 PM ET
12 months ago

Polls give both sides ammunition in shutdown fight

Washington (CNN) - With the clock ticking down toward a possible government shutdown over a bitter partisan battle over the new health care law, both sides appear to be digging in.

In this dangerous game of political chicken, public opinion could be crucial, and right now polls suggest both the White House and congressional Republicans have numbers on their side to bolster their arguments–while more Americans would blame a shutdown and its consequences on Republicans, the president's Affordable Care Act–better known as Obamacare–is becoming less popular.

Some conservative lawmakers, backed by tea party and other grassroots conservative groups, are using the budget battle as leverage, vowing to oppose any measure that provides funding for the federal government from including money for the health care law. A shutdown of the government would kick in if Congress doesn't hammer out a new spending plan by the beginning of next month, which is the start of the new federal budget year.

House Speaker John Boehner and fellow House Republican leaders unveiled a new plan on Wednesday that would tie a vote to defund Obamacare to a vote to temporarily continue to fund the government.

"We're going to continue to do everything we can to repeal the president's failed health care law," Boehner said.

The budget battle comes as the White House and congressional Republicans also appear to be headed towards a showdown over raising the nation's $16.7 trillion debt limit, which the country could hit sometime between mid-October and early November. If conservatives fail to defund Obamacare in budget negotiations, the debt ceiling talks would provide them a second opportunity.

President Barack Obama blamed an "ideological faction" of the GOP for the "ideological fight." Obama told some 100 CEO's at a gathering Wednesday that while he's open to negotiating on the budget, "what I will not do is to create a habit, a pattern, whereby the full faith and credit of the United States ends up being a bargaining chip to set policy.It's irresponsible."

The fiscal fight is beginning to register with Americans. According to a CNN/ORC International poll conducted earlier this month, if a government shutdown lasted only a few days, 11% of Americans think that would cause a crisis and another 38% forecast major problems.

But if a shutdown lasted a few weeks, the number who think the country would face a crisis rises from 11% to 31%, and the number who believe major problems would result increases a bit to 43%.

So who would get the blame?

Only a third would consider the president responsible for a shutdown, with 51% pointing a finger at Republicans in Congress, up from 40% who felt that way in March, the last time both sides were at loggerheads.

"The difference between March and September is due to independents," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "In the spring, only 36% of independents said the congressional Republicans would be responsible for a shutdown, while 40% felt that way about President Obama. Now, 53% of independents point the finger at the GOP and only a third say that Obama would be primarily responsible for a shutdown."

It's a similar story with the fight over extending the nation's borrowing limit.

Seventeen percent of those polled say failure to extend the debt ceiling would cause a crisis, with another 45% forecasting major problems for the country. The poll indicates a quarter would blame the president if the debt ceiling were not raised, with 54% holding congressional Republicans responsible.

And while a new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds the country divided over whether the president or congressional Republicans are more trusted to handle budget issues. More people say that Republicans rather than the president and his administration are doing too little to compromise.

While polling appears to favor the White House, new numbers also suggest that the 2010 health care law is dropping in popularity.

In January 51% of those polled by CNN/ORC said they favored all or most of the provisions in the new law. Now that figure is down to 39%. Support has dropped in virtually all demographic categories, but it has fallen the farthest among two core Democratic groups - women and Americans who make less than $50,000.

"Those are also the two groups that are most likely to pay attention to health insurance issues, and possibly the ones most likely to be affected by any changes," adds Holland. "Change is often scary - even change that promises to bring long-term benefits - and it may not be surprising that Americans are getting a case of cold feet as these new policies start to kick in."

Other new surveys indicate that many Americans don't think the new law will benefit them. Only 12% of those questioned in a NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll conducted earlier this month said the measure would positively impact them, with three in ten saying there would be a negative impact and more than half saying the law wouldn't make much of an impact. A USA Today/Pew Research Center survey conducted at the same time had similar results.

And only a minority in both surveys said they had a good understanding of the law.

soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. rs

    Just Asking-
    You post would make much more sense if the House GOP ever actually passed a budget for the United States- unfortunately, owing to their failed leader (Mr. Boehner), and the hyper-radicalized TEA Party that hasn't happened.

    Dream on my friend. The job market improves, the market is up, housing starts are up, record automobile sales, and more- all without the GOP.The GOP frittered away 5 years where they could have been players in fixing their 8-year disaster, but no, they chose to be the disloyal opposition. All they have left is shut it down. No policy, no plan, no morality. Those anti-American economic terrorists failed- get it?

    Go ahead- shut it down- your party won't see the light of day for a decade- if it lasts that long. Americans are ited of your brand of anti-Americanism.

    September 18, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  2. kirk

    Chuck Todd, I will be sending him an email, never done that but would like him to know his much people despise someone who turns their back on the truth when the your in the news business, just goes to show you how deep the gop money claws go. Why is it so hard to tell the truth when your job is news? You cant seriously expect people to take you at your word anymore when you acknowledge that facts aren't a priority. People who want to be lied to watch fox news, and you won't be disappointed if that's what your looking for.

    September 18, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  3. Data Driven

    One poll number not mentioned: most Americans don't want Obamacare dismantled, even if they are getting cold feet. Why? There's no alternative.

    September 18, 2013 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  4. tiffinS

    The GOP Solution

    The GOP Solution: Turn all the Old, Sick, Poor, Non-white, Non-christian, and Gay people into slaves. Then whip them until they are Young, Healthy, Rich, White, Christian, and Straight. Or until they are dead. Then turn them into Soylent Green to feed the military. And don't forget the all time favorite..........TAX CUTS FOR THE RICH!!!!!!!!!
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    The DNC Solution: Take more and more of hardworking peoples money and give it to the Lazy, Crooked, Fat, Drug addicted leeches of society to make their already pathetic lives a bit less pathetic in essence turing them into slaves and drones of the DNC Party.

    September 18, 2013 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
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