CNN Poll: Most say govt. shutdown bad; Tea Party disagrees
March 15th, 2011
02:49 PM ET
12 years ago

CNN Poll: Most say govt. shutdown bad; Tea Party disagrees

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

–Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn

Filed under: Poll
soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. Robb

    It goes to show that the Tea Party only answers to its very narrow constituency and doesn't give a damn about the average American. These people need to be one-termers. Even the rest of the idiot Republicans and Democrats in Congress are looking good compared to this fringe (read, lunatic) element. Everyone needs to go in the next elections.

    March 15, 2011 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  2. Ben

    In plain and simple English, the Tea Partyers are radicals.

    March 15, 2011 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  3. Weeper of the House: Two and the Door

    Those arguing that the government is living way beyonds its means fail to comprehend that our means would be in much better condition had the unfunded tax cuts not been extended for a group that has been living high on the hog off the backs of the working class. Spending cuts are NOT the only solution (not even close).

    March 15, 2011 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  4. Chris

    Of course the Tea Partiers think a government shut down would be a good thing! You have to be pretty self-centered and unaware that there's a world around you to think in that manner. That's exactly what Tea Partiers are. Everyone would like more money in their pocket come April 15, but the Tea Party just wants to reduce taxes at any cost. Sure, there's some fat to trim, but you can't just pick a number and go. If what you're cutting offers you ROI (that's return on investment for the academically challenged), then you're hurting the bottom line, not helping. The most pathetic thing about the Tea Party is that if the government were to enact cuts as deep as they're asking for, they'd then turn around and cry about all the lost jobs. Let's not forget that government spending supports significant portions of our economy. Spending cuts need to be dissected carefully, with a scalpel, not broadly with a meat cleaver. I call on the levels heads remaining in the GOP to ignore the idiots all the way on the right and not over swing this pendulum. Pandering to the Tea Party WILL cost you the independent vote in 2012. Tea Partiers are going to vote for the most conservative candidate no matter what. The most ground to gain for the GOP is in the middle. They'd be advised to start acting like it.

    March 15, 2011 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  5. kyle

    Tea baggers all talk, no answers.

    March 15, 2011 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  6. Ted

    The Tea Party is a part of the GOP, not a real party. Everyone should call it what it is – GOP Tea Party, not just Tea Party. It is a bunch of delusional paranoid wackjobs that were comatose during the free spending years of the Bush administration in which hundreds of billions of the deficit were spent on two brain dead wars. So where were the Tea Partieers er ah GOP Tea Pottiers then. Funny when the idiot Bush was in charge they didn't care with Cheney echoiing Reagan quote deficits don't matter. Let a democrat get in and then these Tea Pottiers get religion and start demanding spending be reigned in. I think the GOP Tea Pottiers should go get jobs to take up their free time.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    March 15, 2011 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  7. GW

    Right! Shutting down the government worked so well the last time Republicans did this. Political suicide and fratricide is such a great solution. Go for it!

    March 15, 2011 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  8. MikeBell

    A central government that does too much creates insecurity and instability.
    The Federal Government should never become the center of 'Social Doctrine' that it legislates into a 'State Religion'. Forcing 'any American' to pay an equivalent to a 'Tithe' to cover the cost of 'Social Doctrine' is wrong and is a violation of the U.S. Constitution.
    The Federal Government has overreached its authority.
    This administration apparently believes that the election of the President is an election of a 'Dictator' with term limits.

    March 15, 2011 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  9. Realistic

    The real issue is not being discussed because we, the people, do not have adults in Washington. The of Republicans are calling for an "adult conversation" that mainly takes things away from adults who don't vote Republican which proves childish behavior and the GOP fantasy that we can keep federal taxes at historic norms in an aging America is a major obstacle to sane governance. The democrats want to protect EPA and *big bird* from the ax, education and so on and with such a huge divide wheres the common ground? The Tea party as are no help because the put people in office whose more worried about flushing toilets(Rand Paul) and light bulbs and everything that they(TP)assume most people care about. No one cares if Rand Pauls toilet takes multi times to flush and no one cares about which lightbulbs we are able to buy. The debate in Washington has gotten petty because we, the people are allowing it. Without an adult conversation our problems will never be resolved. Here is a start, republicans get to cut $40 billion and democrats same amount $40 billion from the budget and all sides have to agree to the others cuts. There, we have $80 billion worth of cuts and both sides can say they did accomplish something. Well, this will never happen because what fun would it be if both sides agreed to come to a solution to our problems. Instead we will debate toilets, lightbulbs, Big Bird and on and on, its called job security for idiots because as long as they can deflect real solutions and replace it with it with nonsense, they stay in their offices.

    March 15, 2011 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  10. seriously???

    @DemoCommunists for a Better Way – Bankruptcy... then why don't you and your Teabagging buddies personally escort seniors out of their assisted living facilities and say, "sorry, can't support you any longer, but here's a package of Top Ramen and a towel to keep you going for a few hours, compliments of the Tea Party."

    March 15, 2011 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  11. NVa Native

    ..... practice run? Like it's some kind of sick game? What a childish moron.
    Everybody take notice of what the tea-tards are thinking by reading what this idiot writes –
    "DemoCommunists for a Better Way – Bankruptcy" .

    March 15, 2011 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  12. Chuck

    They need to stop going back and forth and just pass the 2011 budget. That would then give them about 6 months to work on the 2012 budget. Given that much time maybe they would be able to compromise (sorry for the dirty word) and come with a fiscally responsible plan.

    March 15, 2011 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  13. Lynda/Minnesota

    Go ahead and shut it down, GOPers . . . if you dare. This in-fighting every other week is getting ridiculous, and accomplishes nothing constuctive. Pretty much sums up the Republican Party . . . full on bluster, short on solutions.

    March 15, 2011 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  14. Marcus

    DemoCommunists for a Better Way – Bankruptcy
    Delusional as always, denying proven facts as mere leftist theories and trying to look down on everybody who disagrees with you...
    And expecting, more like demanding, to be respected and be taken seriously by anyone else beyond the bubble you live in...

    March 15, 2011 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  15. vegas01

    Sure they do, look at the options offered. Dems pass no budget and then propose virtually no cuts, and then stall at the Rep. approved House bill that only scratches at the surface.
    Too bad we cannot stop payment on the Legislative and Executive branches' pay until they considerably cut spending and limit government back to Constitutional duties only.

    March 15, 2011 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  16. NVa Native

    So 73% are a normal blend of Americans and the other 27% are ditto-heads and fox followers who hate what America stands for – "they hate us for our freedom".

    March 15, 2011 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  17. John

    Shut her down!

    They can't fund those left wing liberal institutions if its closed.

    March 15, 2011 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  18. Seattle Sue

    Of course the Tea Party is made up of people that are radical, racist, lying rednecks that hate middle class real Americans.

    March 15, 2011 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  19. ellid

    I predict that the Tea Party's delight at the idea of no government will evaporate once the first of the month rolls around and their Social Security checks don't arrive, they have to pay out of pocket for their medicines and medical care, and their tax refund checks are delayed.


    March 15, 2011 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  20. Nicolae

    There is a lot of condemnation for those who think a shutdown would be positive step. Please look beyond the names Democrat”, "Republican", and "tea party" and try to understand that something has to give in Washington on spending and debt or we’re all in trouble. Neither side is moving off their position towards a solution, nor can I recall government ever being so polarized. Allowing the non-essential government services to shut down will force the issue. Congress is essential to solving the problem but completely dysfunctional and they're keeping their constituents on edge just like the news agencies. What do they care, they're all millionaires! Shutting it down won’t harm them a bit. If you are proponents of more spending, more entitlements, and increasing debt then you are the idiots, there is no more revenue and not enough coming in to cover what has been done for the next 15 years...and you want to spend more?! Go ahead and try to rob the rich for more entitlements, they just might leave you losers standing in the welfare line looking for more handouts while they fly away with the kitty.

    March 15, 2011 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  21. abo42000

    The funny part is the Government seems like it's shutdown even when it's up and running.

    March 15, 2011 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  22. vegas01

    Dear Lynda/Minnesota,
    You posted the following...

    Go ahead and shut it down, GOPers . . . if you dare. This in-fighting every other week is getting ridiculous, and accomplishes nothing constuctive. Pretty much sums up the Republican Party . . . full on bluster, short on solutions.

    Where is the accountability for your beloved Dems, who had control of both the Congress and Presidency, yet failed to produce a budget before end of year? Seems the Dems were the "short on solutions" gang when it comes to the facts at hand.

    March 15, 2011 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  23. joe

    A shutdown of the Tea Party would indeed be a good thing. When can we start?

    March 15, 2011 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  24. Name?

    What happens in washington is exactly what is happening here. Everybody saying something but not being heard. Everyones just typing away posting their thoughts and views and not one will be answered. We elect idiots on false hope that they actually care about something. The only thing a politician cares about is being elected.

    March 15, 2011 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
1 2