Both parties to blame if government shuts down, poll says

Will the GOP take all the heat from the public if Congress is unable to pass a spending bill to keep the government running by Monday night? A new poll from the Pew Research Center for the People & The Press says no, they won't.

The poll, which surveyed 1,003 adults nationwide between Sept. 19 and 22, shows the blame would be divided about evenly. Thirty-nine percent say they would blame Republicans if a budget standoff ends in a government shutdown, versus 36 percent who say they would blame the Obama administration. Seventeen percent of those surveyed say the blame should be shared equally.

That was the case in April 2011, the last time Mr. Obama and Republicans went toe to toe over the federal budget - but a deal was struck at the eleventh hour, averting a shutdown. It hasn't always been the case. In 1995, during a confrontation between a Republican Congress and then-President Clinton that ended in a shutdown, a similar poll question found that 46 percent would blame the Republicans, versus just 27 percent who would have blamed the Clinton administration. The shutdown is credited with helping Clinton win re-election in 1996, though some experts dispute it had a significant effect on the president's polling numbers.

The poll shows that a majority of Americans, 57 percent, want lawmakers and the president to be more willing to compromise. Only 33 percent say it's worth sticking to principle, even if it results in a shutdown. That number is much higher among Republicans: seventy one percent of those who align with the tea party say a government shutdown is a worthy price to pay for sticking to one's principles; only 20 percent disagree.

But there's a divide within the Republican Party a whole. Only 38 percent of Republicans or Republican-leaning adults who don't agree with the tea party say lawmakers should stand by their principles even if the government shuts down. A majority of that group, 54 percent, say that lawmakers should compromise. Similarly, a full 87 percent of those that agree with the tea party support the House GOP plan to cut off funding for the Affordable Care Act as part of any budget agreement; only 61 percent of Republicans who do not affiliate with that group say the same.

On the question of whether a budget deal will be reached in time to avert a shutdown, there's a dead heat. Forty-six percent say there will be a deal; 45 percent say there won't be.

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