Americans are losing patience with the shutdown

January 11, 2019, 8:00 PM GMT+0

A majority of those who support the wall would be willing to let the shutdown last two weeks or more

The President’s speech Tuesday night did little to change overall opinion about the federal government shutdown, though it did bring him some additional support from Republicans in the ongoing battle over his demand for $5 billion for a border wall with Mexico. The latest YouGov Polls find many believing he deserves a lot of the blame for the shutdown – more than say this about Congress.

Before Tuesday’s speech, 41% of Republicans blamed the President “not at all” for the shutdown. In a YouGov Poll conducted after the speech (but before the President’s trip to the Southern border), that percentage rose 12 points. Still, there was little change overall.

The two televised addresses were speeches heard by the choir. Republicans were more likely than Democrats to watch the President’s entire speech. Most of those who watched the President’s entire speech approved of it. Democrats were more likely than Republicans to watch the Democratic response, and a majority of those who watched all of that response approved of it.

Less than half the public saw all or part of the President’s speech and the Democratic response by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Neither side fared all that well with the public overall, watching or not. Opinion of the Democratic response was closely divided, while more disapproved of the President’s address than approved of it.

Support for the President’s position on the border wall had deteriorated before the addresses. Before – and afterwards – more opposed than supported building a wall. At the start of the year, Americans in the Economist/YouGov Poll were closely divided on building a wall. Last weekend, opinion moved against it. In the poll conducted after the speech, the level of opposition had not changed.

Democratic opposition to the wall has grown (it is 86% today), while 86% of Republicans favor building a wall. Independents narrowly oppose the border wall in all three polls. As many say they trust the Democratic Party on border security as say they trust the GOP. Democrats continue to have a slight advantage when it comes to the party best on immigration reform.

Immigration continues to be a divisive issue. One in four say the number of legal immigrants should increase, nearly one in four say it should decrease. Republicans have consistently worried more about both legal and illegal immigration. Two in three Republicans call illegal immigration a “very serious” problem for the country, and by three to one, they would decrease (as opposed to increase) legal immigration.

The shutdown is not yet affecting most people directly or indirectly. 15% say they were personally affected in some way, while more than a third know someone affected. There are more Democrats than Republicans in both groups. There is more sympathy for government employees who have been furloughed among those who know someone who has been affected in some way by the shutdown.

There is limited patience for a shutdown. Majorities in all parties say they prefer compromise when it comes to budget negotiations – in principle. While more than a third think the shutdown will last at least two weeks more, even more say they have no idea how much longer it will go on.

How long are they willing to have the shutdown last? One in five are willing to have it continue a month or more. Those who take the President’s position and support building a border wall seem much more willing to keep the shutdown going (they are also less likely to see a personal impact of the shutdown). A majority of those who support the wall would be willing to let the shutdown last two weeks or more. Half of those who oppose the wall want it to end within a week.

Though those in favor of a wall are more willing to stick it out, they are outnumbered when everyone is asked how the shutdown should end. 26% nationally take the President’s position, that the Democrats should accept his $5 billion border wall request, 14% want some compromise between the two, and 43% think the President should accept the Democrats’ original offer of $1,6 billion of border security (not a wall), more than the combined percentages of those siding with the President or seeking compromise.

There has been no change on this since before the President’s speech.

See full toplines and tables results.

For Trump's post-speech results, see here.

Image: Getty

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