Poll: Voters recoil from government shutdown

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has vowed to avoid a government shutdown at the end of this month. | Getty

Voters have an unambiguous message for Washington: Do not shut down the government.

Sixty-five percent of voters in a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll say that Congress should “take all necessary steps to avoid a government shutdown,” a warning sign for lawmakers who might be toying with the idea of holding up funding to influence policy. Just 17 percent of registered voters say they could stomach a shutdown “if it helps them achieve their policy goals.”

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Those are sobering numbers for members of Congress, who leave town Friday for two weeks having done absolutely nothing to avoid a shutdown when the money to fund government operations runs out at the end of the month.

The POLITICO/Morning Consult poll was conducted among 1,990 registered voters March 30 through April 1. It has a margin of error of 2 percentage points.

The government last shut down in 2013, when Republicans in Congress wrestled with former President Barack Obama over funding the Affordable Care Act. After 16 days, Congress passed legislation to re-open government.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has vowed to avoid a government shutdown at the end of this month.

But Trump and Capitol Hill have several legislative landmines they need to navigate to avoid a funding crisis. Trump has asked Congress to trim some discretionary spending, and has signaled he would like a boost in military spending and more money to build a border wall with Mexico. Democrats are all but uniformly opposed to acceding to Trump’s demands, and even some Republicans are squeamish about deep cuts to discretionary domestic spending.

Voters say very few issues that are worth shutting the government over. Just 38 percent say the border wall is worth a shutdown, and less than half (47 percent) say an increase defense spending offset by domestic spending cuts would make it worth it.

Fifty-four percent of registered voters, however, say fighting for increased Pentagon spending without accompanying reductions would be worth a shutdown.


“In theory, a sizable majority of voters dislike the idea of Congress causing a government shutdown,” said Morning Consult Co-Founder and Chief Research Officer Kyle Dropp. “However, when faced with a real-world tradeoff of losing a favorable policy outcome, support for a temporary shutdown rises sharply.”

The prospect of a shutdown is much more popular with Republicans. Twenty-two percent of self-identified GOP voters are OK with the tactic, compared to just 14 percent of Democrats.

The gender gap is pronounced in the polling: 23 percent of men are comfortable with an interruption in government services, compared to 13 percent among women.

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