Little appetite for a government shutdown, poll says

The sun peeks from behind the Capitol dome on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, as the budget battle continues. 

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

American voters have little appetite for a government shutdown, according to a Politico/Morning Consult poll released Wednesday.

Sixty-five percent of voters surveyed said lawmakers should take “all necessary steps” to avoid a government shutdown, while only 17 percent of voters indicated a temporary shutdown would be permissible “if it helps [member of Congress] achieve their policy goals.” An additional 18 percent said they had no opinion.

Lawmakers have, in past years, used the threat of a government shutdown as leverage to advance their legislative agenda. Sometimes the threat has helped produce eleventh-hour agreement; other times that agreement has failed to materialize, and the government has shut down in its absence. The numbers in Wednesday’s survey could give lawmakers pause as they consider whether voters would tolerate a temporary shutdown.

Paul Ryan on government funding, relationship with Trump

“Government shutdowns are not leverage—they are failure. Barely keeping the lights on should not be considered a budgeting success,” warned Maya MacGuineas, the president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, in a statement on Wednesday. “Our nation needs a budget process that works every time and does not use gimmicks or smokescreens to hide a rapidly rising and historically high national debt.

The last time the government’s funding expired without an agreement was in 2013, when Republican attempts to undermine the Affordable Care Act touched off a 16-day shutdown.

The Politico survey asked voters about a number of specific funding items, and whether those items are “important enough” to justify a government shutdown. Just one item – an increase in defense and homeland security spending - was judged crucial enough by a majority of voters to warrant a shutdown.

Only 38 percent of voters said building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, for example, is “definitely” or “maybe” important enough to compel a shutdown. Forty-four percent disagreed. Similarly, only 38 percent of voters said defunding Planned Parenthood is important enough to justify a shutdown; 50 percent said it would not warrant a shutdown.

As for who would shoulder the blame in the event of a shutdown, voters were split: 22 percent said they’d blame congressional Republicans, 34 percent said they’d blame congressional Democrats, 24 percent said they would blame President Trump, and 20 percent had no opinion.

The survey polled 1,990 registered voters nationwide between March 30 and April 1. Results carry a margin of error of plus or minus two percent.