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It’s Week 4 Of The Shutdown. Americans Still Think Trump Is To Blame.

There’s no immediate end in sight to the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, now on Day 25. Thousands of federal workers were forced to go without a paycheck on Friday, and Americans continue to hold President Trump responsible.

In line with polling conducted before Trump’s national address last Tuesday, four new polls show that Americans overwhelmingly blame Trump and congressional Republicans for the partial shutdown1:

  • A Quinnipiac University poll found that 56 percent of voters held Trump and congressional Republicans responsible for the shutdown (the poll did not ask about the two separately). An additional 36 percent said they thought congressional Democrats were responsible. Only 2 percent of voters said that Trump’s national address changed their mind about building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border; 89 percent said it did not.
  • Fifty-five percent of Americans blamed Trump for the shutdown, while 32 percent pointed their fingers at congressional Democrats, according to a CNN/SSRS poll. (Respondents were not asked whether they blamed congressional Republicans.) The poll also found that most Americans did not support Trump’s proposal to build a border wall — 56 percent said they opposed the wall, and 39 percent said they were in favor of it. Those numbers are essentially unchanged from one month ago.
  • Asked for a CBS News/YouGov poll whom they blamed “the most” for the shutdown, 47 percent of Americans said Trump. Thirty percent said Democrats in Congress. Just 3 percent blamed congressional Republicans. But 20 percent of Americans placed the blame “equally” on all parties involved. The poll also found that a large majority of respondents were either “very” or “somewhat” concerned about the impact the shutdown would have on federal employees (74 percent), transportation and air travel (62 percent) and the economy (71 percent).
  • An ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 53 percent of Americans held Trump and congressional Republicans responsible for the shutdown, while 29 percent blamed Democrats in Congress. Fifty-four percent said they opposed the building of a border wall, a 9-point decline from a year earlier.

The pollsters found more mixed views when they asked about the situation at the border, depending on how the question was framed. A majority of the respondents to the CNN/SSRS poll — 52 percent — said they didn’t consider it a crisis, while 54 percent of the Quinnipiac respondents said they believed there was a security crisis along the border with Mexico. Meanwhile, the CBS News/YouGov and ABC News/Washington Post polls provided respondents with more nuanced answer choices to the crisis question: Fifty-five percent of respondents in the former said the situation was “a problem, but not a crisis,” while 47 percent in the latter (a plurality) said illegal immigration across the U.S.-Mexico border was “a serious problem, but not a crisis.”

Trump’s strategy of keeping the government shut down unless Democrats vote to fund his border wall doesn’t seem to be helping him politically. Since the shutdown began on Dec. 22, polls have found a slow but steady decline in Trump’s net approval rating (approval rating minus disapproval rating). According to FiveThirtyEight’s presidential approval tracker, on Dec. 21, Trump’s net approval rating stood at -10.5 percentage points — 42.2 percent of Americans approved of the president’s job performance, and 52.7 percent disapproved. Since then, Trump’s net approval rating has dropped to -13.7 points, with 40.8 percent approving and 54.5 percent disapproving. Unless Trump can change the narrative of the shutdown or re-open the government, imagining public opinion of him improving is difficult.


  1. All four polls were conducted after Trump’s address, except one: The ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted Jan. 8 through Jan. 11, overlapping one day with Trump’s address on Jan. 8.

Janie Velencia is a freelance writer focused on survey research. She previously covered the 2016 elections as the associate polling editor for The Huffington Post. Prior to that, Janie managed congressional data and wrote for CQ Roll Call.