Congress passed a stopgap measure on Wednesday morning that prevents a government shutdown for another two weeks. But legislators would do themselves a favor by passing a long-term solution before that extended deadline, because polls indicate that if they fail to do so, Congress — rather than President Obama — would suffer the brunt of voters’ ire.
Without a completed budget bill, the government would effectively shut down until one is passed, as happened in 1994. Americans are overwhelmingly opposed to that prospect; about 60% of respondents to surveys conducted by Gallup and PPP said they didn’t want to see the government temporarily shuttered.
But if a shutdown does occur, polls have shown more Americans would pin the blame Congressional Republicans than on Obama. However, when surveys pit Obama and Congressional Democrats against Republicans in Congress, the blame gets spread more evenly.In a Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday, 47% of registered votes said they would blame Republicans for a shutdown, while 38% said they’d blame Obama. That’s a similar finding to one contained in a PPP poll from mid-February, in which 41% of voters said they would blame Congressional Republicans, while 35% said they’d hold Obama accountable.
Yet in a Gallup poll last week, respondents were evenly split over who was doing more to solve the budget stalemate — Democrats and Obama, or Republicans. In that poll, 39% said Obama and Democrats were doing the most toward averting a shutdown, while 42% said Republicans were doing more. With a 4% margin of error in that survey, that result is a statistical tie.
Admittedly, it’s a small sample size of polls to pick through. Yet it points to one benefit Obama wields in the budget debate: he can’t do anything until Congress first sends him a budget to sign or veto. Congress is where the budget bill has stalled, as Democrats and Republicans continue to squabble over how much spending to cut, and from where.
It certainly doesn’t help that Congress remains immensely unpopular. According to the latest TPM Poll Average, only 26.5% of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, while a whopping 64.6% disapprove.
As Congress grinds toward a final compromise, Obama can remain above the fray — and point out that he can’t do anything until a bill arrives on his desk.