Americans more likely to blame Trump, Republicans if government shuts down: Poll

A new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds substantially greater Republican risk.

ByABC News
January 19, 2018, 12:00 PM

— -- A new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds substantially greater Republican risk in a government shutdown, with Americans by a 20-point margin saying they’re more likely to blame Donald Trump and the Republicans in Congress than the congressional Democrats if one occurs.

Forty-eight percent in the national survey say they’d blame Trump and the GOP, vs. 28 percent who’d blame the Democrats in Congress. An additional 18 percent would blame both equally.

See PDF for full results, charts and tables.

As is often the case in Washington mud fights, political independents make the difference: They’re more likely to blame the Republican side by 46-25 percent. But there’s also a broad gender gap, with comparative GOP vulnerability among independent women and even among Republican women – notable results a day before the 2018 women’s marches on Staurday.

Results among independents are similar to the 1996 and 2013 shutdowns; in both cases, the public generally – and independents in particular – blamed congressional Republicans. Those experiences send a clear warning signal: Both shutdowns were highly unpopular.

Partisan gaps also disfavor the GOP in this survey, produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates: Seventy-eight percent of Democrats say they’d blame Trump and the GOP caucus for a shutdown, while fewer Republicans, 66 percent, say they’d blame the Democrats in Congress. And women are 16 points more apt than men to say they'd blame Trump and the GOP.

The political and gender gaps come together: While just 9 percent of Republican men would cast blame on their own side of the aisle, this doubles to 18 percent of Republican women. (GOP women also are 13 points less apt to say they’d blame the Democrats.) Further, 38 percent of independent men would blame the Republican side, but 55 percent of independent women say they’d do so. Democratic men and women, by contrast, are well aligned on the question.

Ideological divisions are typical, and again include gender differences, with both moderate women and conservative women more likely than their male counterparts to say they’d blame Trump and the GOP for a shutdown.

Further, there’s a split within conservative ranks. Among strongly conservative Americans, 68 percent say they would blame the Democrats in Congress, 15 percent Trump and the Republicans. Among “somewhat” conservatives, blame on the Democrats eases to 45 percent, while intention to blame Trump and the Republicans jumps sharply, to 32 percent.

The survey was conducted Monday through Thursday, just as the shutdown issue was coming to a head. While actual blame if a shutdown occurs may differ, the public’s been prescient in the past. When a shutdown loomed in March 2011, 45 percent said that if it occurred, they’d blame the Republicans in Congress, not Barack Obama. Two and a half years later, when a shutdown did occur, 53 percent blamed the GOP.


This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone Jan. 15-18, 2018, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,005 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points, including the design effect. Partisan divisions are 31-23-40 percent, Democrats-Republicans-independents.

The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt Associates of Cambridge, Massachusetts. See details on the survey’s methodology here.

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