Poll: Most Americans don’t understand scope of the government shutdown

Despite significant coverage from the national media, most Americans are unaware of how much of the federal government is currently closed due to the budget impasse between congressional Democrats and President Trump. 

In a new The Hill-HarrisX poll, just 31 percent of registered voters were able to correctly answer that about one-fourth of the federal government has been shuttered while the president and Democratic leaders negotiate over funding for a wall between the United States and Mexico.

The rest, 69 percent, either over-estimated or under-estimated how much of the government had been shut down, including 28 percent who said that half of the bureaucracy is closed and 19 percent who said that three-fourths had been affected.

Ten percent of voters said that all federal agencies are currently shut down, while 13 percent said that only one-tenth of the national offices were closed.

Younger Americans were less likely to know what percentage of the federal government has been affected by the current budget showdown.

Only 22 percent of voters between 18 and 34 said that one-fourth of the federal bureaucracy was currently closed.

Among voters between 35 and 49, 25 percent gave the correct answer, while 33 percent of voters who were between 50 and 64 answered correctly. Nearly half of voters 65 and older, 45 percent, picked the right response.

Partisanship appears to have had no bearing on whether voters answered correctly. Thirty-one percent of Republican voters chose correctly while 32 percent of Democrats did. Thirty percent of independents gave the right response.

“I think there’s people who watch this and people who don’t,” Republican pollster Ed Goeas said Friday on “What America’s Thinking.”

“Mainly the federal employees watch it very closely. And everyone else, there’s a lot of people that believe shutting down government for a period of time is not a bad thing,” Goeas added.

The latest Hill-HarrisX poll was conducted Dec. 26-27 among 1,000 registered voters and has a sampling margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

—Matthew Sheffield

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