Unlike 1995, Americans say they would blame GOP, Democrats equally for shutdown

September 23, 2013

If Congress is unable to reach a deal on the budget, and the government shuts down next week, Americans will blame both political parties about equally, according to a new Pew Research Center poll.

The poll shows 39 percent would blame Republicans, while 36 percent would blame Democrats. The difference is within the margin of error.

The numbers are the same as they were two years ago when Congress confronted another potential shutdown. But they stand in contrast to a Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted before the 1995/1996 government shutdown, in which Americans said they would blame Republicans over Democrats by a 46-27 margin.

Polls after the shutdown actually showed Republicans continued to bear the brunt of the blame, by about the same margin.

While both parties would get about the same amount of blame this time around, Republicans are much more supportive of shutting the government down if they don't get what they want.

The poll shows 49 percent of Republicans say their party should stand by their principles, even if it means a shutdown. Just 18 percent of Democrats say the same.

Those numbers echo a Washington Post-ABC News poll last week that showed 51 percent of Republicans were prepared to shut down the government rather than pass a budget that funds Obamacare.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix, the Post’s top political blog.
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Aaron Blake | September 23, 2013