A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that most Americans are blaming Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress for the partial government shutdown which is the longest in U.S. history. By nearly a two-to-one margin U.S. voters assign blame to the president and members of his party rather than to congressional Democrats.
The poll also found that most voters do not believe Trump’s claims that there is an illegal-immigration crisis on the U.S. border with Mexico.
Surprisingly, however the poll finds that more Republicans support building a border wall than ever before. GOP support for Trump’s pet project increased 16 percent in the past year, from 71 percent to 87 percent. While Republican support increased, it also became stronger, since now 70 percent of the members of the president’s party are saying they “strongly support” the wall, which reflects an increase of 12 percent since January of last year.
Overall, 42 percent of poll respondents now say they support building a wall, which is an increase from 34 percent a year ago. Fifty four percent of poll respondents say they oppose the idea of building a border wall.
With respect to allocating blame for the shutdown, 53 percent of poll respondents said that Trump and congressional Republicans are mainly at fault. Just 29 percent blame the Democrats in Congress. Thirteen percent of participants in the survey said both sides bear equal responsibility for the shutdown.
Surprisingly, these numbers are identical to those found in the poll which was taken at the end of the 16-day government shutdown in 2013, when 29 percent blamed President Barack Obama and 53 percent blamed congressional Republicans.
There is, as expected, a strong partisan divide in the poll results. Among Democrats, 85 percent say Trump and Republicans are the cause of the shutdown, while 68 percent of Republicans blame congressional Democrats. Independents, however, fix the blame squarely on the president and his party rather than on the Democrats, by a margin of 53 percent to 23 percent.
This shows that the political consequences of the shutdown may fall more heavily on Republicans than an Democrats, since independent swing voters often determine the outcome of elections.
Women voters assigned blame to Trump and Republicans by a margin of 35 percentage points while men voters blame the president and the GOP by a margin of 13 percentage points.
What do these poll results mean? According to the Post:
“The deep partisan divide over who bears responsibility for the partial shutdown and over the wall itself is likely to have contributed to the length of the standoff. Neither the president nor Democratic congressional leaders have shown any willingness to compromise. Republicans in Congress continue to show support for Trump’s positions.”
Every time the president has met with congressional Democrats the talks have broken down. Their meetings continue to be very contentious. The last time they met at the White House Trump walked out when told by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that she would continue to oppose the wall in border security negotiations, even if the government was reopened.
Right now there is still no indication that the shutdown will be resolved any time soon.
Most Americans say they are not yet seeing negative effects of the shutdown in their personal lives. Just 18 percent say they have been inconvenienced, including a mere 7 percent who say it has been a major problem for them personally.
However, if the shutdown continues for several months, as Trump has threatened, 38 percent of Americans say they would consider that a crisis and 41 percent say it would be a serious problem.
This poll shows that Donald Trump owns the shutdown in the eyes of the American people, and it is he and members of his party who will suffer politically the longer it continues.
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.