US Elections Editor

Public opinion is increasingly turning against President Obama over the government shutdown, although Americans are still more likely to view Republicans as the main problem

Numerous media and research organizations have conducted polls on the government shutdown, with much focus on who Americans blame for the crisis. But only YouGov has tracked public opinion throughout the shutdown, revealing trends in who Americans think stands most in the way of a resolution to the crisis.

In YouGov’s survey respondents are initially given the option of naming one or more parties as obstacles to ending the shutdown – choosing from a list including Republicans in Congress, Democrats in Congress and Barack Obama – and then respondents who choose more than one are forced to select the ‘bigger’ obstacle from the remaining options.

What this reveals is that more Americans peg Republicans in Congress for keeping the shutdown going than anyone else: 46% choose Republicans in Congress, down four points from a peak of 50%. Over the course of the crisis between 18% and 21% of Americans have also said Democrats in Congress are one of the biggest obstacles. However, the number who pick President Obama has risen steadily from 34% on October 3-4 to 42% on October 9-10 – the largest change of any group.

During the same period the gap between the percentage that name Republicans in Congress and the percentage that name President Obama has more than halved, from 14 points to only six points.

The trend suggests his efforts to pin responsibility for the partial shutdown on ‘hostage-taking’ by the Republicans appear to be floundering as the crisis drags on and Americans began to look to their President in increasing numbers for a resolution of some kind.

The same trend is seen when all respondents are forced to pick just one culprit, when 42% choose Republicans in Congress and 37% say President Obama is the biggest obstacle. This five point gap has narrowed from a 13 point gap last week.    

If the 7% who pick Congressional Democrats – who have been highly unified and supportive of President Obama’s refusal to negotiate until government funding is restored – is added to President Obama’s share, the combined number is 44%, or slightly higher than Republicans.

The changes are slight, and while momentum appears to be against President Obama and Democrats – who were together blamed by only 38% late last week – the two sides appear to be in a statistical tie for now.

However the increase in the number who blame Democrats – in particular the President – appears to follow another upward trend: more and more Americans are being affected by the crisis. Whereas only 14% were affected on day one, a quarter of the public (25%) now say they’ve been hit personally by the shutdown.  

View the full tracker results here

Image: Getty

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