Twice as many Americans blame Donald Trump than blame congressional Democrats for the partial government shutdown that is now nearly two weeks old.
In a new The Hill-HarrisX poll only 21 percent of registered voters blamed Democrats for the shutdown, which should cause Republicans to lose some sleep. There is no end in sight for this shutdown, and 42 percent of voters who responded to the survey said President Trump was to blame for it. One-third of voters said that both parties in Congress and the president were all equally responsible.
The government has been shut down since Dec. 22 when President Trump changed his mind and said he would not sign a spending bill that had been passed by Congress to keep the government operating.
After being pushed by right-wing media, Trump took the position he would not sign any bill to fund the government that did not include his requested $5 billion in funding for a border wall. Democrats have offered $1.3 billion for border security, and this amount was approved in legislation passed by the Republican-controlled Senate two weeks ago.
This is the third government shutdown in the past year, and normally each party tries to point the finger at the other for causing the funding impasse.
However, during a meeting in the White House on December 11, Trump said he would “own” the shutdown and he would be proud to make it happen. During that meeting, attended by Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Pelosi labelled it the “Trump shutdown” and he did not object to that terminology. Trump claimed he would be “proud to shut down the government for border security” and that he would not blame Democrats for any government closure that might result from the lack of a spending deal.
Since then Trump and other Republicans have still tried to shift blame to Democrats, but this latest poll shows that the strategy is not working. Republicans will not gain political points from extending the shutdown or from providing $5 billion in money for a misguided border all that will not enhance the border security of America.
But because Trump has shifted his rhetoric to claim Democrats are responsible for the partial shutdown, Republican voters appear confused. According to The Hill, “The shifting GOP messaging appears to have caused some confusion for Republican voters over whom to blame for the situation.”
In The Hill-HarrisX poll only 47 percent of Republican voters said congressional Democrats were responsible for the shutdown while 39 percent said that both parties in Congress and the president are to blame.
Just 17 percent of Democratic respondents agreed with that, while 75 percent of Democrats said Trump was responsible.
“The president did say ‘I will shut down the government if I don’t get this, this will be the Trump shutdown.’ The fact that he sort of owned it makes it easier for a lot of these Americans to say, ‘Yeah it’s his fault,’ ” Molly Murphy, a Democratic pollster said on Hill.TV.
A plurality of independent voters, 44 percent, said that both parties are equally at fault. Thirty-seven percent of independents said that Trump is to blame while 16 percent said congressional Democrats were primarily responsible.
Overall, this poll gives ammunition to congressional Democrats to hold out and not compromise with Donald Trump on the border wall funding. To give in to Trump’s childish demands would anger their progressive base of voters and would also not be popular with the majority of Americans.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.