The politics of blame, shutdown edition
People say they would apportion blame about evenly between the Obama administration and the Republicans in the event of a government shutdown. Some 36 percent in a new Washington Post poll conducted with the Pew Research Center say they'd blame Republicans and 35 percent Obama, with 17 percent volunteering that they'd blame both.
These numbers differ from those in 1995 when then-president Bill Clinton and the Republican Congress squared off on the budget. Today, independents divide their blame between Obama and the GOP, by 37 to 32 percent. A little over 15 years ago, in Nov. 1995, independents were more clearly behind the president, blaming the GOP over Clinton by 46 to 24 percent.
In 1995, Republicans were less unified in blaming the opposition: 57 percent assigned fault to Clinton. In the new poll, 69 percent of Republicans say they'd blame Obama if the two sides can't come to terms. By contrast, Democrats are somewhat less apt to blame the GOP today than they did in the early stages of the 1995 fight (63 vs. 71 percent).
Half of all those polled say Obama is playing politics with the issue and 43 percent say he is trying to resolve the dispute. Slightly more - 59 percent - say Republicans in Congress are playing politics vs. 33 percent who say they are trying to resolve the issue. These are roughly the same reactions people had in 1995.
The partisan splits on these questions are very similar. Sixty-one percent of independents say Obama is playing politics, but 63 percent also say this about the GOP. Among Republicans 70 percent say Obama is playing politics. Among Democrats, slightly more - 81 percent - say Republicans are playing political games.
The political consequences of a shutdown are daunting for either side and the economic conditions are quite different now than they were 15 years ago. In November 1995 the unemployment rate was 5.6 percent. Today it is hovering at 9 percent. The prospect of shutting more people out of work could be a tough political pill to swallow.
Blame more for a government shutdown? Obama GOP Both (vol.) All 35 36 17 Democrats 11 63 17 Republicans 69 8 17 Independents 37 32 17 Liberal Dems 7 72 16 Mod-Cons Dems 13 60 17 Cons Reps 76 5 14 Obama administration: Trying to resolve Playing the budget issue politics All 43 50 Democrats 72 24 Republicans 24 70 Independents 33 61 Liberal Dems 76 23 Mod-Cons Dems 71 23 Cons Reps 21 74 Republicans in Congress: Trying to resolve Playing the budget issue politics All 33 59 Democrats 15 81 Republicans 68 27 Independents 30 63 Liberal Dems 13 86 Mod-Cons Dems 16 78 Cons Reps 74 23
Peyton M. Craighill
| March 1, 2011; 9:37 AM ET
Categories: Congress, Federal Budget Deficit
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