Politics and Public Opinion

Budgeting Blame

Going into a possible government shut down, Republicans may reassure themselves that polls show blame would be split evenly between the Democrats and the Republicans. As posted earlier today, there’s plenty of evidence to support that conclusion. However, a quick look back at 1995 and some other factors support the view that Republicans may get more blame.

Strong majorities don’t want a government shutdown to occur. A March 2011 ABC/Washington Post poll shows that 62 percent would consider a government shutdown a bad thing. These numbers are pretty similar to what they were in 1995, when ABC/Washington Post found that 67 percent thought a shutdown would be a bad thing. The negative public reaction means blame will likely fall on the party seen as responsible for the shutdown. Senate Minority Leader McConnell, like many Republicans, is trying to shift blame to the Democrats by claiming “if a shutdown does occur, our Democratic friends have no one to blame but themselves because they have done nothing whatsoever to prevent it.”

But some polls seem to reinforce the view of the Republicans as the more uncompromising party, especially on budget and deficit matters. In the March ABC/Washington Poll, 71 percent of respondents said the Republicans are not willing enough to compromise on the budget deficit. To be fair, 52 percent said the same of the Democrats. But the 19 point difference is still rather significant.

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