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Comparing Attitudes on the 2013 and 2019 Shutdown

Tue, 01/15/2019

Recently released polls show that the President Trump and Republicans in Congress are receiving more blame than Democrats

By Andrew Rugg, Director of Research

A slate of recently released polls show that President Trump and Republicans in Congress are receiving more blame than Democrats for the current government shutdown. These polls bear striking similarities to polls released in the wake of the last major government shutdown in 2013 under the Obama administration.

A new Quinnipiac poll shows that 56% of voters blame Trump the latest shutdown, while 36% blame Democrats. A recent ABC/Washington Post put the blame on Trump and the Republicans at 53%, with 29% blaming the Democrats.

The blame for the latest shutdown is rather consistent with the blame that was handed down by voters during the 2013 shutdown. An ABC/Washington Post poll taken at the conclusion of the 2013 shutdown showed that 53% blamed Republicans while 29% blamed President Obama. CNN/ORC poll during the shutdown showed similar results – 52% blamed Republicans and 34% blamed Obama. The data shows that Republicans might receive slightly more blame for the latest shutdown, although these differences fall within the margin of error.

Just as in 2013, attitudes on the latest shutdown show steep partisan divides on assigning blame. In the recent ABC/Post poll, 68% of Republicans blame the Democrats in Congress. Unlike the 2013 shutdown, Republican partisan views have hardened. In a 2013 ABC/Post poll, 57% of Republicans blamed President Obama.  This constitutes a notable 11 point increase in Republican blame towards Democrats for the shutdown. Democrats, on the other hand, have been more consistent. 85% of Democrats blame Trump and the Republicans in the recent ABC/Post poll. 84% of Democrats in the 2013 ABC/Post poll blamed Republicans for the shutdown.   

Another similarity: Republicans care just as much about the wall as they did about defunding Obamacare in 2013. A 2013 CNN/ORC poll found that 56% of Republicans agreed that it was more important to prevent “major provisions in the new health care law from taking affect by cutting funds needed to implement them” than approving a budget agreement that would avoid a government shutdown. The 2019 ABC/Post poll found that 58% of Republicans think Trump should continue to demand funding for a border wall even if it extends the government shutdown.

The data suggests that the dynamics of the latest shutdown are following a similar script to 2013, albeit one with more Republican opposition to compromise. It remains to be seen how attitudes will change if the shutdown continues, particularly if the shutdown drags on for an extended period of time. But the underlying partisan dynamics and issue preferences remain consistent with the 2013 shutdown. 

Andrew Rugg manages a team of research professionals, using quantitative, qualitative, and analytical methodologies to support building and optimizing  effective communications campaigns for a diverse array of clients. He is a five year veteran of the firm. 














Cover photo courtesy of Andy Feliciotti

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