CNN U.S. News

Americans blame GOP for budget mess

Poll graphic

November 15, 1995
Web posted at: 11:10 a.m. EST

While Americans have shifted toward the Republicans in the question of who has the best approach toward dealing with the budget deficit, more blame the GOP than Democrats for the bringing about the partial government shutdown this week, according to a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll. The poll sampled the opinions of 652 adult Americans on Tuesday. Sampling error is plus or minus four percentage points.

When it comes to dealing with the tough choices involved in cutting programs to reduce the federal budget deficit while maintaining needed federal programs, poll respondents chose the Democrats over the Republicans, the opposite results from a poll in July.

Best Approach to Budget
                Now     July
Democrats       49%     43%
Republicans     36%     44%

When asked if they personally view the government shutdown as a crisis, as a major problem, as a minor problem, or not a problem at all, a majority of respondents said it was a major or minor problem.

Government Shutdown 
Crisis            11%
Major problem     40%
Minor problem     33%
Not a problem     14%

Overall, Americans blame the Republican leaders in Congress more for the recent shutdown of the federal government, not President Clinton.

Blame for Shutdown
GOP leaders           49%
President Clinton     26%
Both                  19%

When asked whether they approve or disapprove of the way President Clinton, Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, and House Speaker Newt Gingrich have handled the budget negotiations in Washington over the past few days, the poll respondents favored the president's behavior more than his opponents in Congress.

Approve Handling of Budget Negotiations
Clinton     48%
Dole        32%
Gingrich    22%

The poll respondents were asked whether they thought the budget debate between Bill Clinton and the Republicans in Congress is an important battle over principles and the future direction of government, or is mostly an attempt by both sides to gain political advantage before the 1996 election. More than half believe politics is behind the budget battle.

Reason for Shutdown 
Politics       52% 
Principles     37% 

Despite claims by Republicans that Americans overwhelmingly support seeking a balanced budget, this latest poll shows more people believe it is more important to protect the Medicare system from major changes.

More Important to... 
Protect Medicare     48% 
Balance budget       38%

The recent events in Washington still have not turned poll respondents off from the established political parties. Most said they probably would not support an independent candidate for president in 1996.

Vote for Independent in 1996
More likely         36%
Not more likely     52%

Americans apparently are very unhappy about what they've seen in Washington over the past few days. Nearly two-thirds of those asked said they are angry about the budget confrontation between the Clinton administration and Congress.

Budget Confrontation
Angry         61% 
Not angry     36% 

President Clinton's chances of being re-elected do not appear to have been hurt much by the budget fray. In the last CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll (Nov. 6-8), Clinton was leading Dole by 10 points, 53 percent to 43 percent. He has a lead of 8 points in the new poll.

1996 Presidential Choice
Clinton     50% 
Dole        42% 

Democrats in Congress apparently have not lost favor among voters. In the last poll, most voters said they would still vote for the Democrats in the 1996 elections. Democrats led the Republicans 49 percent to 43 percent. Republicans gained just one point in the latest poll.

Vote for Congress in 1996 
Democrat       49% 
Republican     44% 


Copyright © 1995 Cable News Network, Inc.
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.