Polls: Public places more blame for shutdown on GOP

As the federal government’s shutdown nears its second week, a pair of new polls released Monday suggests the fiscal standoff has begun to weigh on the Republican Party.

No one – not Republicans in Congress, President Barack Obama or his Democratic allies on Capitol Hill – comes away looking particularly great as a result of the shutdown, according to separate polls released Monday from the Pew Research Center and Washington Post/ABC News. But the negative fallout from the shutdown is more sharply pronounced in public opinion toward the GOP.


Thirty-eight percent of Americans said Republicans were to blame for the shutdown, versus 30 percent who blame the Obama administration and 19 percent who blame both, according to the Pew poll, which was conducted in the days since the shutdown came to pass.

(For context, a Pew poll before the shutdown found that 39 percent would blame the GOP, 36 percent would blame Obama and 17 percent would blame both if the shutdown were to occur.)

The ABC News/Washington Post poll, meanwhile, found that 70 percent of Americans disapprove of the way congressional Republicans are handling negotiations over the federal budget, while just 24 percent approve. (Last week, 26 percent approved of the GOP’s handling, and 63 percent disapproved.)

Congressional Democrats also suffered: 61 percent of Americans disapprove of the way they’re handling the budget (up from 56 percent last week), while 35 percent approve (up one point from last week).


But Obama actually improved slightly in the ABC/Washington Post poll. Forty-five percent of U.S. adults said they approve of his handling of negotiations over the budget, up from 41 percent before the shutdown. Fifty-one percent disapprove of the president’s handling of the situation, up one point from last week.

The two polls offer the best snapshot so far of how the American public has metabolized the shutdown, which entered its seventh day on Monday and could stretch all the way until Oct. 17, the deadline by which Congress must raise the debt limit.

Increasingly, ending the shutdown and resolving the issue of the debt ceiling have become wound together as both Obama and his Republican adversaries in Congress figure out the endgame to their spending fight.

But the new polls offered little in the way of consensus as to how lawmakers or the administration should proceed. The Pew poll found that a slight plurality – 44 percent – of respondents want Republicans to agree to a deal without any changes to “Obamacare.” Democrats in Washington have been pummeling the GOP for days, demanding that they pass a simple extension of government spending and reopen the government. Before the shutdown, Republicans had appended changes to “Obamacare” to these simple stopgap spending bills.

But 42 percent of Americans said in the Pew poll that Obama should agree to a deal to reopen the government that includes changes to his signature health care reform law – as Republicans have been demanding for weeks now.


Heading into the debt ceiling deadline, too, more Americans (47 percent) say that raising the debt ceiling is essential to avoiding an economic crisis, though 39 percent of Americans said they think the U.S. could reach the debt ceiling without inviting major problems. Among Republicans, a majority – 54 percent – said that the U.S. could breach the debt ceiling without inviting calamity.

The Pew Research Center poll was conducted Oct. 2-6 and has a 3.7 percent margin of error. The Washington Post/ABC News poll was conducted Oct. 2-6 and has a 3.5 percent margin of error.