The Shutdown Crisis: No Winners and fear of more to come

October 23, 2013, 4:35 PM GMT+0

Neither the President nor Republicans have walked away from the shutdown covered in glory, while most Americans wouldn't be surprised if there was another shutdown in January.

Although the partial government shutdown has ended – for the time being – and the country has avoided default, there are no winners from last week’s political battles. And the latest Economist/YouGov Poll finds Americans expecting more shutdown battles to come.

Nearly three-quarters of the public expect there will be another shutdown in January, when the government funding approved just last week will run out. And – by more than two to one – they believe as well that government shutdowns will become part of “normal” politics.

Republicans are even more likely than other Americans to expect another shutdown next January. And a majority of them, as well as a majority of independents, think shutdowns will become a common part of politics.

Though the public may be glad to have ended the shutdown and to have avoided a default (nearly two out of three looked on the shutdown as a bad thing and nearly half thought of it as a crisis), the way the shutdown ended left no one especially happy. More disapprove of the deal that ended the shutdown than approve of it, with Republicans particularly unhappy: 68% of them disapprove of the agreement.

Most Republicans were, of course, opposed to Obamacare, and GOP House members hoped to use a shutdown agreement to end or postpone the implementation of the President’s health care plan. But while no participant “won” the shutdown battle, Congressional Republicans may be the biggest losers, even losing the confidence of some of their own partisans.

On budget matters, Americans don’t trust any of the shutdown battle participants. Nearly half have little or no trust in President Obama and the Democrats in Congress when it comes to making the right decisions about the federal budget. More than half lack confidence in the Republicans in Congress.

There is the expected partisan impact when it comes to judging political parties and individuals: Republicans have little trust in the President and Congressional Democrats, and Democrats don’t trust the GOP. But what hurts the GOP is that even many Republicans don’t trust the Republicans in Congress: more than a quarter of Republicans say they trust their own party’s Congressional representatives on budget issues very little or not at all.

And while Republicans don’t necessarily single out their party for blame when it comes to what group started the shutdown (although one in ten blame the GOP alone), more than half of Republicans say their party bears at least some of the responsibility. Only 34% of Democrats put any of the blame on their party – blaming solely or in part either the President or Congressional Democrats.

Both House and Senate Republicans have Republican detractors, but it is the Senate and its GOP leader Mitch McConnell, the Republican who brokered the agreement that reopened the government, and not the House and its leader, John Boehner, who are more disliked. 39% of Republicans have unfavorable opinions of Senate Republicans; 32% are unfavorable about House GOP members. And while Republicans give Speaker Boehner a favorable assessment, they give Senate Minority Leader McConnell a negative evaluation.

The Tea Party remains popular with Republicans (though not with the public overall). 58% of Republicans have a favorable view of the Tea Party; only 13% are unfavorable. One in four Republicans consider themselves as part of the movement.

Although those results may make it appear that Republicans nationally would rather fight than compromise, that isn’t true for most GOP identifiers. 57% of Republicans want members of Congress to compromise on budget agreements, though that is much lower than the percentages of independents and Democrats who favor compromise.

The approval rating for Congress as a whole has been so low for so long that it is hard to believe it could get worse. But the shutdown has increased overall disapproval. This week, 7% approve, but 72% disapprove, continuing the high negative ratings linked to the shutdown’s beginnings.

As for the President, there has been little change. 42% approve of the way he is handling his job, while 53% disapprove.

The lack of any major change for President Obama is similar to the limited impact of the 1995 partial shutdowns on then-President Clinton’s ratings. Then, as now, it appears that opinions of Congress – and especially of the GOP leaders (particularly then-Speaker Newt Gingrich) – were more affected.