Unless there is a shift, a new CBS News/New York Times poll finds that Republicans will take more blame if there’s a government shutdown than President Barack Obama and the Democrats. And the poll also finds that voter would not be pleased if there’s a default on the debt ceiling:
With the budget deadline rapidly approaching as September comes to an end, there is finger-pointing across the political aisle over a possible government shutdown, according to a CBS News/New York Times poll released Wednesday.
Most Republicans would lay more of the blame on President Obama and the Democrats in Congress, while Democrats would blame the Republicans in Congress.
When the government did shut down after a similar budget battle back in November 1995, 51 percent of Americans blamed the Republicans in Congress, while 28 percent blamed Bill Clinton.
If the government shuts down, the Republicans in Congress may take more of the blame: 44 percent of Americans say they would blame the Republicans in Congress more if there is a partial shutdown of the federal government on Oct. 1, while fewer – 35 percent – would put more of the blame on Barack Obama and the Democrats in Congress. Sixteen percent volunteer that they would blame both sides equally.
Most voters are not optimistic a shutdown can be averted:
Americans are split on whether or not there will be an agreement that will avert a government shutdown. Forty-eight percent think there probably will be an agreement between the president and Republicans in Congress, while 47 president think there probably will not. Most Democrats (55 percent) are optimistic, while Republicans are divided, and most independents (52 percent) are skeptical.
Few Americans are looking forward to a government shutdown. Eighty-seven percent of Americans and large majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and independents say they are mostly frustrated about the possibility of a government shutdown.
On the debt ceiling:
But another fiscal deadline looms in October – the possibility of the United States defaulting on its debts if the debt ceiling isn’t raised. As they did in January, most Americans want the debt ceiling raised along with accompanying spending cuts, while 17 percent want the debt ceiling raised without any conditions tied to cuts in federal spending. Only a quarter think the debt ceiling should not be raised at all, though this percentage has risen six points since the debt ceiling battle last January.
But if forced to choose, Americans would rather see compromise than default: 69 percent of Americans prefer a debt ceiling agreement they don’t fully support to the U.S. not paying its obligations.
Most Americans think it is at least somewhat likely that their own family will be affected if the federal debt ceiling is not raised – including 32 percent who think this is very likely. More Democrats than Republicans think this possibility is likely.
This means the battle will be on by each party to blame each other for a default, if it gets that far. But in terms of branding the GOP will have a steeper hill to climb o that one: it is already established now as the party that uses shutdowns as a tool and has been suggesting it would risk default on the debt if it doesn’t get its way on policies.
To change that the GOP would have to rebrand — and we all know how well THAT is going right now…
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.