Americans are pointing the finger at President Trump more than congressional Democrats as a partial government shutdown heads into its second week.
In a new The Hill-HarrisX poll released Monday, only 22 percent of registered voters surveyed blamed Democrats for the shutdown, while 42 percent said President Trump was to blame. One-third of voters said that both parties in Congress and the president were all equally responsible.
The government has been shut down since Dec. 22 when President Trump said he would not sign a spending bill that did not provide his requested $5 billion in funding for a border wall. Democrats have offered $1.3 billion for border security.
Normally, each party tries to point the finger at the other over budgetary impasses, but the president complicated that strategy for Republicans during an extraordinary Dec. 11 White House meeting with Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
In that meeting, Trump claimed he would be “proud to shut down the government for border security” and that he would not blame Democrats for any government closure that might result from the lack of a spending deal.
In the days since, however, Trump has shifted his rhetoric to claim Democrats are responsible for the partial shutdown. On Dec. 21, the day before the shutdown began, the president wrote in a Twitter posting that “The Democrats now own the shutdown!”
The shifting GOP messaging appears to have caused some confusion for Republican voters over whom to blame for the situation.
While 75 percent of Democratic respondents in The Hill-HarrisX poll pointed the finger at Trump, only 47 percent of Republican voters said congressional Democrats were responsible for the shutdown.
Many GOP respondents, 39 percent, said that both parties in Congress and the president are to blame. Just 17 percent of Democratic respondents agreed with that assertion.
“The president did say ‘I will shut down the government if I don’t get this, this will be the Trump shutdown.’ The fact that he sort of owned it makes it easier for a lot of these Americans to say, ‘Yeah it’s his fault,’ ” Molly Murphy, a Democratic pollster said Monday on “What America’s Thinking,” Hill.TV’s show about polling and public opinion.
While Republican partisans have been slow to adjust their opinions to echo Trump’s attempts to blame Democrats for the shutdown, a plurality of independent voters, 44 percent, said that both parties are equally at fault. Thirty-seven percent of independents said that Trump is to blame while 16 percent said congressional Democrats were primarily responsible.
The latest Hill-HarrisX survey was conducted Dec. 30 through 31 and is part of an ongoing project of The Hill’s new online TV division, Hill.TV, and the HarrisX polling company that asks 1,000 registered voters a day about issues of public policy and current events. The latest poll has a sampling margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.
— Matthew Sheffield