New Poll: Who Gets Blamed if the Government Shuts Down?

Apr 04, 2011, 12:09 ET from Public Notice

Overwhelming Majority Of Voters Support Deep Cuts

ARLINGTON, Va., April 4, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With a potential government shutdown looming, Washington has already begun the blame game.  A new poll of likely voters shows Americans will hold both parties responsible for their inability to pass a budget for 2011.  This poll, sponsored by Public Notice and conducted by the Tarrance Group, found that only 2 in 10 voters are not concerned about the level of the federal debt.

Gretchen Hamel, Executive Director of Public Notice, said the following:

"Washington politicians may think they can spin a shutdown to their advantage, but the American people aren't going to fall for it.  They know it will take both parties to get serious about cutting spending. They want cuts, and they will offer their votes to those who support cuts. "

View complete report on findings here.

Key findings:

Federal Spending

  • If there is a government shutdown, no party receives a majority of the blame.  While 38% would blame the Republicans in Congress for a shutdown, a similar percentage (41%) would blame either the Democrats in Congress (23%) or President Barack Obama (18%).  
  • Voters have turned the corner and have made clear their support for deep cuts to the budget.  Nearly three quarters of voters (73%) say it is very important that the budget include "significant" spending cuts.  When it comes to $100 billion in cuts, only 23% say this percentage is too high, while a majority (63%) says $100 billion is too low (34%) or about right (29%).  
  • Supporting $100 billion in cuts would result in a net positive political impact for members of Congress.  A majority (55%) are more likely to support their member of Congress if he or she supports these cuts, while only 24% are less likely.  
  • Eight in ten (81%) voters say it is very important that Congress pass a budget this year.
  • A strong majority (80%) of voters are very concerned about the level of federal debt.  Specifically in regards to the debt, more Americans are concerned that "we are indebted to other countries like China" (51%) than the fact that "more of our budget goes to paying interest on the debt instead of using it for our country's immediate needs" (39%).


  • There is widespread discontent with the federal tax code.  Two thirds (65%) of voters say the Federal tax code needs "major" changes.  Only 30% say the tax code needs modest changes (18%) or a "minor adjustment" (12%).
  • Although 47% of Americans pay no income tax, voters perceive the percentage to be much smaller.  A majority (53%) say the percentage paying no income tax is 40% or less, with 42% of those saying the percentage paying no income tax is 30% or less.  

Debt Ceiling

  • When presented with three arguments about raising the debt ceiling, less than a quarter of voters most agree with the argument that the debt ceiling needs to be raised in order to avoid things like a shutdown and Social Security checks not being mailed.  In fact, a plurality chooses to NOT raise the debt ceiling at all.

This poll was fielded March 29-31 and the results noted above are from 800 registered "likely" voters. 

To interview Gretchen Hamel on the findings of this poll, please contact Kate Pomeroy at 571-970-6497 or

Public Notice is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit, 501(c)(4) organization dedicated to providing the facts and insights on the effects public policy has on Americans' financial well being.

SOURCE Public Notice