The American public is split over whom they will blame in the event of a government shutdown, according to a new poll.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released Wednesday showed 37 percent would blame congressional Republicans, 20 percent would blame President Obama and another 20 percent would blame congressional Democrats if the impasse over this year's budget runs past Friday without a deal in place.


An additional 17 percent say they would hold responsible every party listed in the poll and 2 percent said they would blame both President Obama and congressional Democrats.

The results are a sign that the public could spread its blame on a variety of political entities in Washington if a shutdown occurs, unlike the 1995-1996 government shutdowns, for which Republicans were held almost solely responsible.

Many Republicans have echoed GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), who said late last month that a shutdown would not be in his party's political interest.

But other Republicans have argued a shutdown could help the party appeal to conservative Tea Party activists by demonstrating they are holding firm to their commitment to enact deep budget cuts.

Nearly all Republicans, however, have said Democrats should be blamed for the shutdown, while Democrats have pointed a finger at the GOP for holding out on a potential spending deal.

The poll was conducted between March 31 to April 4 and has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.