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Shutdown poll: voters blame Republicans over Democrats

Polls conducted pre-shutdown found a partisan divide; independents are more likely to blame the GOP.

Senate Minority Leader (D-NY) Chuck Schumer next to a sign that reads #TrumpShutdown.
Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer speaks during a news conference January 20, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. 
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Thus far, voters are placing the blame for the government shutdown on Republicans over Democrats, according to a pair of polls.

A Politico/Morning Consult poll released on Monday and conducted Thursday and Friday — before the federal government shut down at midnight Friday — found that 41 percent of voters said they would fault Republicans in Congress for the shutdown, compared to 36 percent who said they would fault Democrats.

Unsurprisingly, there was a partisan divide — Democrats were likelier to blame Republicans and vice versa, but more independents said they would blame Republicans as well: 34 percent compared to 27 percent for Democrats.

A Washington Post/ABC News poll conducted Monday through Thursday of last week, also before the shutdown, found similar results: 48 percent of respondents said President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans were responsible for the impasse over immigration and border security at the core of the shutdown, compared to 28 percent who said the onus was on Democrats.

The US federal government officially shut down at midnight Friday after Republicans and Democrats failed to reach a deal to fund the government. Democrats are trying to push Republicans and the Trump administration to work with them on a legislative fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), which protects about 700,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children.

The president has rejected bipartisan proposals suggested to him — including an offer to fund a wall at the US-Mexico border. The White House and many Republican lawmakers say Democrats are unfairly injecting an unrelated issue — immigration — into what is supposed to be a bill for government funding.

At least ahead of the shutdown, voters were poised to place more fault on Republicans than on Democrats, according to the polling. Members on both parties have spent the past few days trying to cast blame on one another, with Democrats trying to nickname the shutdown the “Trump Shutdown” and Republicans pushing the “Schumer Shutdown,” referring to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. President Trump has consistently cast blame on Democrats, on Monday morning firing off a pair of tweets saying they are turning down services and securities for citizens in favor of “non-citizens” and are responding to their “far left base.”

The Politico/Morning Consult found that voters split on whether shutting down the government over DACA is a good idea. Forty-two percent of voters said it’s not worth it, and the same percentage said it is. It is worth noting that the public overwhelmingly supports DACA. A recent CNN/SRRS poll found that 84 percent of voters support the government continuing to allow immigrants who meet DACA qualifications to remain in the United States.

To be sure, it’s far from clear that the shutdown will ultimately be a political win for Democrats — or a loss, or whether it will really matter at all. As FiveThirtyEight’s Harry Enten recently pointed out, Republicans pushed the most recent government shutdowns in the mid-1990s and in 2013, and while during both episodes Americans said that Republicans were more to blame than Democrats, electorally, it didn’t ultimately mean much. He wrote:

… Even if there is quick shutdown effect in the polls, the midterm elections are not until November. With Trump in the White House, it’s difficult for any story to stay at the top of the news cycle for more than a few days. With that in mind, it’s easy to see one side picking up political support in the immediate aftermath of the shutdown, only for that bump to fade with time.

How the shutdown will ultimately play out politically remains to be seen, but Democrats, for the time being, have at least some reason to be mildly optimistic.

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