Seven in Ten Americans Believe Another Government Shutdown is Likely

Just one-quarter of U.S. adults believe debt ceiling should be raised again

Nov 26, 2013, 05:00 ET from Harris Interactive

NEW YORK, Nov. 26, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- While his overall approval ratings may be inching downward, on the economy President Obama's job approval ratings are holding steady. But, since that steady is having three in ten Americans (30%) give President Obama positive ratings for his handling of the economy while 70% give him negative marks, which is unchanged from last month, the White House may not be all that happy with this.

(Logo: )

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,250 adults surveyed online between November 13 and 18, 2013 by Harris Interactive. (full results, including data tables, available here)

Where there is a little bit of good news is how Americans feel about the overall economy and their own financial conditions. One-quarter of U.S. adults (25%) believe the economy will improve in the coming year, while 44% say it will stay the same and 32% say it will get worse. Last month, as the nation was coming out of the government shutdown, 22% believed the economy would improve, 37% said it would stay the same and 41% believed it would get worse.

Looking at individual households, half of Americans (50%) believe their household's financial condition will stay the same over the next six months, while 20% say it will get better and 30% believe it will be worse. Last month, while about half (48%) said it would stay the same, over one-third (34%) said their household finances would get worse and 18% believed it would be better in the next six months.

Another shutdown and debt ceiling fight?

The government shutdown may be a memory, but is it also a precursor of things to come? Since the government is only funded until January 15, 2014, there is a chance for another shutdown, and seven in ten Americans (70%) believe it is likely that the government will shut down again in January while just one in five (21%) believe it is unlikely to shut down. Republicans are more likely than both Democrats and Independents to say it is likely there will be a shutdown in January (79% versus 64% and 67%, respectively).

Besides the government shutdown, there was also the corresponding fight over raising the debt ceiling, which has now been raised, but will be reached again in February. Thinking about raising the debt ceiling, half of Americans (50%) do not believe it should be raised anymore, while one-quarter believe it needs to be raised again (26%) and 24% are not at all sure. There is a huge partisan difference here, as 72% of Republicans believe the debt ceiling should not be raised compared to one-third (32%) of Democrats; over half of Independents (55%) also believe the debt ceiling should not be raised.

But, while another government shutdown appears likely to Americans, defaulting does not. Almost half of Americans (46%) say it is not likely that the government will default and not raise the debt ceiling, while one-third (35%) say it is likely the U.S. will default; one in five (19%) are not at all sure.

One concern is that all the uncertainty in Washington, D.C. may have some people rethinking holiday spending and other things. Luckily, three in five Americans (59%) agree that regardless of what happens in the nation's capital, their spending habits will not change much over the next few months. But, one-third (34%) say their spending habits will change. More specifically, just over half of U.S. adults (53%) agree that because of the uncertainty with the federal government they will probably spend less on holiday presents this year and 45% say they will be less likely to do any year end charitable giving because of the potential government shutdown in January. One positive is travel, but it is a small one. While just under of Americans (47%) say they are not less likely to plan a vacation away from home in the next few months because of the potential for another government shutdown, 44% say they are less likely to plan this vacation.

To see other recent Harris Polls, please visit the Harris Poll News Room.

Want Harris Polls delivered direct to your inbox? Click here!

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between November 13 and 18, 2013 among 2,250 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

Q705, 710, 715, 720, 725, 730, 735

The Harris Poll® #90, November 26, 2013
By Regina A. Corso, SVP, Harris Poll and Public Relations, Harris Interactive

About Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for The Harris Poll®, Harris offers proprietary solutions in the areas of market and customer insight, corporate brand and reputation strategy, and marketing, advertising, public relations and communications research across a wide range of industries. Additionally, Harris has a portfolio of multi-client offerings that complement our custom solutions while maximizing a client's research investment. Serving clients worldwide through our North American and European offices, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help our clients stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit

Press Contact:
Corporate Communications
Harris Interactive

SOURCE Harris Interactive