A strong majority of the public would rather have lawmakers reach a compromise on spending than see a government shutdown, according to a poll released Thursday.
A USA Today/Gallup poll shows that 60 percent want Republicans and Democrats to "agree to a compromise budget plan, even if that means they pass a budget you disagree with." Thirty-two percent want lawmakers to "hold out out for the basic budget plan they want, even if that means the government shuts down." Eight percent have no opinion.
Sixty-one percent of self-described independents, a key voting bloc, are opposed to a shutdown, and 70 percent of Democrats do not want a shutdown.
Republicans favor a shutdown in greater numbers (42 percent), but a near-majority (49 percent) still want to see a compromise.
With government funding set to run out on March 4, Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill are at an impasse over a spending bill needed to continue government operations. If lawmakers fail to pass a stopgap measure, the government could shut down all "non-essential" services.
Each side has accused the other of negotiating in bad faith and of holding out for a government shutdown to make a political point. The House early Saturday passed a continuing resolution that would cut $61 billion from current spending levels and fund the government through September, but that proposal has little chance of passing the Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) says he wants to pass a short-term measure that continues to fund the government at current levels, while House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who has faced pressure from some conservative freshmen to hold out and force a shutdown, says any spending bill should contain at least some cuts.
As for the final result of a compromise, the public appears to have an appetite for spending cuts.
Forty-eight percent say that Democratic budget plans do not go far enough in cutting federal spending, and 37 percent say Republican plans also do not meet their desired spending levels. The public is split over both parties' general handling of federal budget issues.
Republicans are particularly enthusiastic about cutting spending: 45 percent say their party's own plans do not go far enough to cut spending, while 40 percent believe they are about right. Sixty-two percent of Democrats are satisfied with their party's budget plan.
The poll is based on phone interviews with 1,004 adults on Feb. 22.