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Trump’s approval rating drops to Charlottesville levels during shutdown

Trump’s fight for the border wall is tanking his approval rating.

Trump Delivers Christmas Day Message To Troops From Oval Office
U.S. President Donald Trump’s approval rating has dropped to 39 percent during partial government shutdown.
Zach Gibson-Pool/Getty Images

President Donald Trump is getting blamed for the government shutdown, a new poll shows.

The president’s popularity has dropped below 40 percent amid what is now a six-day partial government shutdown over funding for Trump’s southern border wall, according to a poll from Morning Consult conducted from December 21 to 23. The last time Trump’s approval rating was this low was when he refused to condemn neo-Nazis after the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017.

Only 39 percent of registered voters approve of the president’s job performance during this shutdown, while 56 percent disapprove. However, Trump’s approval rating is split on party lines. Among Republicans, 80 percent approve of Trump; 90 percent of Democrats and 57 percent of independents disapprove of his performance, according to the survey of nearly 2,000 registered voters. Another poll from HuffPost and YouGov found only 36 percent of Americans approved of Trump’s handling of the government shutdown.

Americans disapprove of how Congress has handled the spending fight overall; however, Republicans are seeing more fallout. Only 26 percent of Americans approve of congressional Republicans’ handling of the shutdown, compared to Democrats’ 36 percent approval rating, according to the HuffPost poll.

Trump and Congress remain at an impasse over government funding. Roughly 25 percent of the federal government shut down Friday night, including agencies like the Department of Justice, Interior, and, most contentiously, the Department of Homeland Security, which controls construction on the southern border.

Trump, who said previously he was “proud” of shutting down the government over border wall funding, has since repeated his blaming of Democrats for rejecting his calls for $5 billion in border wall funding.

History shows the public doesn’t usually hold long grudges over shutdowns (this is the third shutdown this year). And by the lack of negotiations, it’s clear that both Trump and Democrats are resting on that assumption as well.

There’s no end in sight for this shutdown — and Trump is only doubling down

Lawmakers, most of whom went home for the holidays, don’t appear close to a deal with Trump. Republican leaders say Democrats have to negotiate with Trump to end the shutdown. But Trump has continued to seek advice from conservative hardliners.

He told reporters he thinks federal workers “understand what’s happening. They want border security. The people of this country want border security.”

But at least one union leader, Tony Reardon, who is the president of the National Treasury Employees Union — one of the biggest unions representing government employees — disagrees.

“I’ve been dismayed and frankly angered by suggestions that they shouldn’t have financial concern, that they signed up for disruptions in their lives,” Reardon told reporters.

Government shutdowns do matter; while they don’t usually result in senior citizens going without their Social Security checks or the military ceasing to function, they still impact vast swaths of government functions. The Office of Management and Budget estimated that the 2013 shutdown, which lasted 16 days, resulted in 120,000 fewer jobs and cut economic growth by 0.2 to 0.6 percent in the last quarter of that year.

But who gets the blame, and for how long, is less clear. In the 1995 shutdown, Republicans’ approval ratings dropped, as did those of then-President Bill Clinton. But in the 2013 midterms, while Republicans in Congress again got the blame, President Barack Obama’s approval ratings remained relatively unchanged. This time, according to the HuffPost/YouGov poll, Republicans appear to be getting more blame than Democrats — though both parties have very low approval numbers.

We know that the public doesn’t hold on to these feelings for long — and it’s unlikely to have much of an effect on the 2020 elections.

That said, if this fight over Trump’s border wall keeps going, the president will have to tell Border Patrol or TSA officers that their paychecks will have to wait a little bit longer.

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