Here’s What Americans Make Of The Partial Government Shutdown

The Capitol building is visible as a man who declined to give his name, right, picks up garbage during a partial government shutdown on the National Mall in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

President Trump, Congress, and members of both parties all get negative marks for their initial handling of the partial government shutdown, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov survey. Democrats in Congress, however, fare substantially less badly than their GOP equivalents ― a shift from the shutdown this January, after which the ratings were more evenly distributed.

Americans disapprove of the handling of the shutdown by Congress as a whole (by a 33-point margin), congressional Republicans (29 points), President Trump (14 points) and congressional Democrats (9 points). Members of Congress fare better with their constituents: Americans are split 35/37 in approving or disapproving of their own representatives’ performance.

Pundits often seem to envision public opinions in the wake of shutdowns as a zero-sum game, in which the public assigns blame to one side and absolves the other. Survey questions asked about such battles often lend themselves to such frames as well.

But the reality of how Americans think about the shutdowns isn’t necessarily so clear-cut. Partisans tend to heap condemnation on their opponents, but aren’t necessarily ecstatic about their own side’s decisions.

Other people, especially if they follow politics only casually, may be more likely to write the whole thing off as Washington dysfunction. (To get a better sense of how people view the shutdown, we also asked survey respondents to explain in their own words what was happening.

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