Government Shutdown, Jan 2019

NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist National Poll

Convincing Americans that the government shutdown is an effective tool to bring about consensus on border security is a tough sell for President Donald Trump.

Seven in ten Americans (70%) think shutting down the government to reach policy consensus is a bad strategy. 22% believe it is a good one, and 7% are unsure.

Most Democrats (96%), more than seven in ten independents (72%), and even more than one in three Republicans (35%) consider the strategy flawed. 53% of white evangelical Christians and even 30% of Trump supporters from 2016 agree.

“The path President Trump is taking to fulfill his major 2016 campaign promise is not popular,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “Americans don’t think the government should be shutdown as a tactic to debate policy issues.”

A majority of Americans (54%), including 86% of Democrats and 54% of independents, believe President Trump is most responsible for the government shutdown. More than three in ten (31%), including 71% of Republicans, blame congressional Democrats. Five percent assert congressional Republicans are to blame, and 10% are unsure.

With the exception of the aforementioned Republicans, 2016 supporters of President Trump (74%) and white evangelical Christians (54%), pluralities of most Americans blame Trump. Of note, Americans living in small towns and rural areas divide with similar proportions finding Trump and congressional Democrats responsible. Women (62%) and white Americans with a college degree (59%) are more likely than men (46%) and white residents without a college degree (45%) to blame the president for the shutdown.

Neither President Trump nor Democratic congressional leaders win much favor from Americans as a consequence of the shutdown. 61% of Americans say they have more negative feelings toward Trump. 28% have more positive feelings, and 7% say the shutdown has not impacted their attitude toward the president. When former President Barack Obama was embroiled in 2013’s government shutdown, 57% of Americans reported having a more negative opinion of him. That’s according to a survey conducted by the Gallup Organization. In 1995, 49% of Americans reported a more negative impression of former President Bill Clinton when he endured a shutdown. That’s according to a December 1995 Gallup/CNN/USA Today Poll.

At least a majority of Americans — with the exception of 2016 Trump supporters, Republicans, and white evangelical Christians — have a more negative opinion of the president. Still, 15% of Trump’s supporters, 22% of Republicans, and 40% of white evangelical Christians report the shutdown has tarnished their view of Trump.

A majority of Americans (52%) also say they have a more negative attitude toward the Democratic congressional leadership as a result of the shutdown. 30% have a more positive opinion, and 12% say their feelings toward the Democrats have not changed. Six percent are unsure. Congressional Democrats now fare better than congressional Republicans in 2013 and in 1995. According to the 2013 Gallup survey, 61% of Americans had a more negative impression of Republican congressional leaders. In 1995, 62% of Americans had the same view, according to the Gallup/CNN/USA Today Poll.

While 58% of Democrats have more positive feelings of their party’s leadership as a consequence of the current shutdown, one in four (25%) have more negative attitudes.

Complete January 16, 2019 PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll Release of the United States

Complete January 16, 2019 PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll of the United States (Tables of Adults and Registered Voters)

Marist Poll Methodology

Nature of the Sample