Poll: Majority of Republicans welcome a shutdown

By Sahil Kapur
Thursday, April 7, 2011 10:21 EDT
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WASHINGTON – A Gallup poll released Wednesday and circulated by Senate Democrats found that Americans decidedly want to see the two parties compromise and reach a budget deal. But a majority of Republicans wanted their leaders to “[h]old out for the basic budget plan they want, even if that means the government shuts down.”

Americans decidedly want a compromise by a margin of 58 to 33 percent, the poll found. But Republicans prefer the hard line position 51 to 44 percent, in contrast with Democrats, who are willing to cede ground by a margin of 68 to 27 percent.

Independents in the survey said they support the compromise position by 60 to 29 percent.

The survey sheds light on how the blame game might play out as a government shutdown appears more likely. A late-night meeting Wednesday between President Barack Obama, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) failed to produce an accord between the two parties, and even if a deal is struck in time, procedural rules may prevent it from being enacted by Friday to avert a temporary closure of services.

The Gallup poll found that, by a margin of 41 to 34 percent, Americans believe that Obama and Congressional Democrats are “doing the better job” as compared to Congressional Republicans in trying to strike a deal. That’s up from February, when Republicans had the edge 42 to 39 percent.

If the most recent government shutdown, which occurred in 1995 as Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) stared down President Bill Clinton, is any indication, Congress will be blamed for the failure to reach a deal while the president’s favorable ratings will rise.

This time, the Republican speaker isn’t pushing for a confrontation. But unlike Obama and Reid, Boehner is boxed in by a group of tea partiers who may be unwilling to accept any deal agreeable to Democrats.

As Gallup put it, “The difficulty for House Speaker John Boehner and other Republican leaders is that rank-and-file Republicans’ views on this question are starkly different from those of the public at large.”

The Gallup survey polled 1,014 American adults across the nation on April 5, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

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