Democracy Dies in Darkness

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More Americans blame Republicans than Democrats for potential government shutdown, Post-ABC poll finds

January 19, 2018 at 12:03 PM

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Funding for government lapsed early Saturday morning, as a short term spending bill stalled in the Senate. Lawmakers have been busy pointing fingers at who's to blame for the impasse. (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)

By a 20-point margin, more Americans blame President Trump and Republicans rather than Democrats for a potential government shutdown, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

A 48 percent plurality says Trump and congressional Republicans are mainly responsible for the situation resulting from disagreements over immigration laws and border security, while 28 percent fault Democrats. A sizable 18 percent volunteer that both parties are equally responsible. Political independents drive the lopsided margin of blame, saying by 46 to 25 percent margin that Republicans and Trump are responsible for the situation.

[Read full poll results | How the poll was conducted]

The poll was conducted Monday to Thursday, largely before House Republicans' passage of a short-term funding bill Thursday aimed at averting a shutdown starting midnight Friday and putting pressure on Democrats and the Senate to avert a shutdown.

[Government shutdown looms as Senate Democrats dig in against GOP spending plan]

Democrats railed against the House bill for not offering protections for young undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children as well as other issues, and are planning to block the measure if it is brought to the Senate floor.

The Post-ABC poll finds Democrats are more united in blaming Republicans for the situation than vice versa. A 78 percent majority of Democrats say Trump and congressional Republicans are mainly responsible for the potential government shutdown, while a smaller 66 percent of Republicans blame Democrats in Congress. One in seven Republicans, 14 percent, say Trump and Republicans are to blame.

Public opinion ahead of Friday's deadline is similar to attitudes at the end of the 2013 government shutdown. A Post-ABC poll after it ended found 53 percent of Americans said Republicans were mainly responsible for the shutdown, compared with 29 percent who blamed President Obama. The 24 percentage-point margin of greater blame for Republicans then is slightly larger than the 20-point blame margin for Trump and Republicans in the new poll.

The new poll finds Hispanic adults say by a roughly 3 to 1 margin that Republicans are mainly responsible for a potential government shutdown, with 60 percent blaming Trump and Republicans while 19 percent blame Democrats. Similarly, 61 percent of adults under age 30 say Trump and Republicans are mainly responsible for the situation, higher than other age groups.

The Post-ABC poll was conducted Jan. 15-18, 2018 among a random sample of 1,005 adults reached on cell and landline phones with a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Emily Guskin contributed to this report.


Scott Clement is the polling director for The Washington Post, conducting national and local polls about politics, elections and social issues. He began his career with the ABC News Polling Unit and came to The Post in 2011 after conducting surveys with the Pew Research Center's Religion and Public Life Project.

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