CNN Poll: Would government shutdown anger Americans?
December 21st, 2010
12:00 PM ET
12 years ago

CNN Poll: Would government shutdown anger Americans?

Washington (CNN) - As Congress races to the wire to approve a temporary spending bill to keep the government open for business, a new national poll indicates that if a legislative impasse shut down the federal government for a few days, most Americans would take it in stride.

But a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Tuesday also indicates it might be a different story if the shutdown lasted for a few weeks.

Read Full results after the jump:

Full results (pdf)

The current measure funding the government, a so-called continuing resolution that was passed Friday, is set to expire Tuesday at midnight.

"It's not a purely hypothetical question; Congress must agree to some sort of legislation in order to keep the government up and running - and if history is any guide, the specter of a government shutdown may loom over the 112th Congress as well," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

According to the survey, 13 percent of the public would view a government shutdown that lasted a few days as a crisis; another three in ten would see it as a major problem, with 57 percent seeing a shutdown that lasted a few days as a minor problem or not a problem at all.

But the poll suggests it's another story if the government were shut down for a few weeks. One in three questioned would see that as a crisis and another 38 percent would view it as a major problem. Only about a quarter would consider it a minor problem or not a problem at all.

"In 1995, when a dispute between Bill Clinton's Democrats and Newt Gingrich's Republicans led to a temporary shutdown, More than half the country considered it a crisis (12 percent) or a major problem (44 percent)," adds Holland.

The framework for a deal to fund the government into March of next year appears to be in place for congressional passage this week. With Republicans taking control of the House in January and pledging spending cutbacks, a March deadline would set up a full-fledged fight over the budget.

While a continuing resolution puts government spending on autopilot, the version under consideration does include some adjustments to spending levels, including the two-year freeze in pay for federal workers that President Obama called for in November.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted December 17-19, with 1,008 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

Check out CNN's new Polling Center, which provides the most comprehensive polling data covering national questions and the top 2010 election races of any news organization in the political landscape.

- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser & CNN Money's Charles Riley contributed to this report

–Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn

Filed under: CNN Poll Archive • Congress • Extra
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. bipar08

    why fund the government, they don't do anything , why pay for nothing?

    December 21, 2010 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  2. ThinkAgain

    "In 1995, when a dispute between Bill Clinton's Democrats and Newt Gingrich's Republicans led to a temporary shutdown, ..."

    Could you report this accurately? The government was shut down when Newt Gingrich got his panties in a knot because he wasn't invited to sit at the front of the plane with President Clinton on the flight to attend the funeral of assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

    Gingrich HIMSELF gave this as the reason for the shutdown, when he told it to a roomful of reporters on Wednesday, November 15, 1995.

    CNN, quit trying to whitewash the pettiness of Newt Gingrich and the Republican Party.

    December 21, 2010 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  3. BILL, WI

    The needs of the country and it's citizens are secondary to the games politicians like to play. If there was no drama or controversy the poor politican would not get their picture in the paper.

    December 21, 2010 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  4. gt

    america will be a ton better off after nancy and her band of merry men and women are gone....shut it down and start over ,,,

    December 21, 2010 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  5. @Omegaraiel (twitter)

    When it happened in clinton years, it cost govt $800 million to make up for shutdown.

    December 21, 2010 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  6. Rickster

    Please tell me that the government is going to shut down....that would be the best Christmas present we could get. I've said it before and I'll say it again, the federal government should operate the same as most state governments....they should gather in D.C. for a 2-3 month legislative session and then go home. That way they wouldn't be spending 365 days per year scheming new ways to separate the working people from their money.

    December 21, 2010 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  7. king

    well the people voted for this shut down, i woud hope that congress have enough sence to get this thing resolve, before the republican congressional talibans take over in january. hey i need to ask this questions, why ar'nt the people getting mad with all these policies being past, by the people they didnt elect. are they having doubt about the new crap of talibans they voted for to take over the house. they should be out raged i say, now their will be nothing left for the repug talibans to do, dam they havent done nothing all year, aint this a .....

    December 21, 2010 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  8. feckless

    Only a traitor would "shut down the government" in a time of war.

    How many soldiers will die so the republicans and their tea party subsidiary can get their billionaires wish list?

    Show me a society that has cut taxes during war(s). You can't. Not in the entire history of the world.
    Because if they did cut taxes they lost that war(s) so completely that they have been wiped clean from the pages of history.


    December 21, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  9. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    When the federal government shuts down, there are those that can't get services provided and federal employees don't do the work that they are supposed to do. That would mean museums and parks are closed; could law enforcement be stopped? That is something to consider.

    December 21, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  10. Wes B.

    The ignorance here is something else.

    ::shakes head::

    December 21, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  11. Bob in Pa

    A government shutdown might be just what Obama wants. I'm sure his leftist allies have figured out a way in which they can seize more power in that situation

    December 21, 2010 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  12. Fitz in Texas

    Shutting it down...great idea. Think of all the money we hard working taxpayers would save. Not paying these politicians their over paid salary, funding their little perks they get for doing nothing. Yep, shutting it down sounds good to me. Think of the money we could use to support our own family.

    December 21, 2010 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  13. Fair is Fair

    Instead of shutting the federal government down, how about letting them do only the things the founders intended the federal government to do? That should reduce the monster by about 70%.

    December 21, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  14. T'sah from Virginia

    Who said the government is shutting down??? Jeez!! NO NEWS is NEWS TIME!

    December 21, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  15. B

    Everyone buy now understands that this once great country is dissolving into complete partisan government disfunction.
    The Republicans admitted their Primary Agenda to make this a one term Presidency is an abomination to most Americans.

    If these people were in Public Business they would all be Fired!
    Holding Congress hostage on Legitimate legislation to get Tax breaks for the 2% wealthiest people is an outrage.

    December 21, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  16. Democrats Class Warfare - Destroying the economy and country

    Shutting down non-essential government services would be fine with me. It might help get all the government dependent lefties up off their lazy arses. Go earn your keep and learn to live on your own.

    December 21, 2010 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  17. KM

    For all those looking forward to a federal government stoppage, let me remind you of some of things that you will be without during this period. Of course this is not an all-inclusive listing but just few that I thought of. Only essential personnel are kept on during a government shutdown. Basic services such as VA compensation may be disrupted for our disabled veterans, Social Security services will be affected, Occupational Safety & Health inspections of various worksites will be haulted, most services within the Department of Health & Human Services, etc. Of course things such as border patrol, TSA, federal police, fire will continue. Also, did you realize that the shutdown in 1995 didn't save the government money, federal employees in essence had a free paid vacation because they ended up getting paid retroactively for those "furlough" days?

    December 21, 2010 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  18. NVa Native

    Repub mantra – "Self-interest first, damn the country".

    December 21, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  19. Moderate Sean

    "B.B. Stein E.B. NJ", the rightwing morons (Like Rickster, stufit, gt, etc...) that comment regularly on this blog do not logically think through the outcomes of certain actions. Not only would the pleasurable services of the park and national museums be closed, but also potential important services like food safety inspections, the Dept of Agriculture and grants that come from them to farmers, the FDA and their important research, the Federal courts, EPA and all that they do to inspect and maintain our environment, Federal Watch Dogs groups/agencies, sending out SS checks to our elderly, social programs that assist in food, job training, special services to the very poor and those with special needs....the list goes on and on, but all these crackpots can think of is partisian politics. What a nation we have become....shameful, very shameful!

    December 21, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  20. Dean

    There are many government agencies that should be shut down forever..........
    Does anybody remember the reason given for the establishment of the DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY..... during the Carter Administration?




    Didn't think so!

    Bottom line. We've spent several hundred billion dollars in support of an agency....the reason for which not many people who read this can remember!

    Ready?? It was very simple..and at the time, everybody thought it very appropriate.

    The Department of Energy was instituted on 8/04/1977, TO LESSEN OUR DEPENDENCE ON FOREIGN OIL.

    Hey, pretty efficient, huh???


    33 years ago 30% of our oil consumption was foreign imports. Today 70% of our oil consumption is foreign imports.
    Another great job of government spending for nothing.

    December 21, 2010 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |