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Support for Government Shutdown Drops from 53% to 45%

Monday, September 30, 2013

Most voters still think a federal government shutdown would be bad for the economy, and support for a shutdown to force budget cuts has fallen several points. Voters are now evenly divided over whether they want to risk a shutdown to cut federal spending.

Two weeks ago, 53% of Likely U.S. Voters said they’d rather have a partial government shutdown until Democrats and Republicans can agree on what spending to cut, while 37% said they’d rather avoid a shutdown by authorizing spending at existing levels. Now, a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 45% favor a shutdown until spending cuts are agreed on, and 46% want to move ahead with spending at existing levels. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Similarly, 46% now want to have a partial government shutdown until the two sides can agree on what spending for the new health care law to cut, but 45% want to avoid a shutdown by authorizing spending for the law at existing levels. Earlier in the month, 51% liked the idea of a shutdown until spending for the health care law was cut, while 40% favored no shutdown and spending on the law at existing levels.

Sixty percent (60%) of voters believe a partial shutdown of the federal government would be bad for the economy even though payments for things like Social Security, Medicare and unemployment benefits would continue. Seventeen percent (17%) believe a government shutdown would be good for the economy, while 15% say it would have no impact.

Concern about a shutdown is only slightly higher than it was two weeks ago, but support for a federal budget that cuts spending is down from 58% to 52%. Little changed are the 18% who want a budget that increases spending and the 23% who think spending levels should remain about the same.

With a shutdown possible as early as midnight tonight, House Republicans are proposing a short-term budget that would delay the health care law’s individual mandate a year, but Senate Democrats are unlikely to agree. Thirty-six percent (36%) of voters favor the government requirement that every American buy or obtain health insurance, but 50% are opposed.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on September 28-29, 2013 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Seventy-nine percent (79%) of voters have been following recent news reports about the federal budget debate in Congress, with 45% who are following Very Closely. Men and older voters are following the debate much more closely than women and voters under 40. Partisan interest is uniform across the board.

Republicans continue to strongly support a shutdown for spending cuts in general and ones specifically aimed at the health care law. Democrats are nearly as strongly opposed.

But voters not affiliated with either major party have shifted in the past couple weeks. While most unaffiliateds supported a shutdown earlier this month, now these voters are slightly more opposed than in favor of one.

Still, 51% of unaffiliated voters agree with 80% of Republicans that they prefer a federal budget that cuts spending. Just 29% of Democrats share that view, and just as many (29%) would rather see a budget that increases federal spending.

Sixty-one percent (61%) of Mainstream voters want a budget that cuts spending, compared to 28% of the Political Class.

But then 63% of Americans believe most of their fellow countrymen want the government to have less power and money, while only 22% think most politicians feel that way.

Seventy-nine percent (79%) of voters who oppose the health care law’s individual mandate favor a federal budget that cuts spending. Just 19% of those who favor the mandate agree.

Supporters of the mandate strongly oppose a government shutdown in general or over the health care law. Opponents of the mandate favor a shutdown almost as strongly.

Tea Party voters overwhelmingly support a government shutdown. Just over half of voters not affiliated with the grass roots movement oppose one.

In late August, 42% of Republicans said threatening to vote against a government funding bill unless it cuts off funds for the health care law will help the GOP.

In reacting to current economic problems, most voters (64%) continue to support cutting government spending, while 24% think the government should increase spending.

Sixty-four percent (64%) also favor a smaller government with fewer services and lower taxes. Just 26% prefer a larger government with more services and higher taxes.  

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only. 

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