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Who gets blamed for a government shutdown?

President Donald Trump got into a public verbal spat with congressional Democratic leaders Rep. Nancy Pelosi...

Posted: Dec 12, 2018 5:07 AM
Updated: Dec 12, 2018 5:07 AM

President Donald Trump got into a public verbal spat with congressional Democratic leaders Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer when they met Tuesday in the Oval Office to work toward avoiding a partial shutdown on December 21, when funding for a large portion of the government expires.

Much of their disagreement turned on who would be blamed for a shutdown and who would own it if it occurred.

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"The President made clear he wants a shutdown," said Schumer after the meeting.

Starting with the mid-1990s clashes between President Bill Clinton and the then-fresh Republican majority in Congress, there have been seven polled government shutdowns or close calls, and though each situation was unique, Republicans have been blamed for most of them, although Democrats took the blame for the most recent, a short affair back in January, even though Republicans controlled the House, Senate and White House at the time.

The shutdowns in late 1995 and 1995-96 were clearly blamed on the Republicans, who controlled the House and Senate at the time even though a Democrat, Bill Clinton, was in the White House. There was a partial shutdown in November 1995 and a full shutdown from December of 1995 into January 1996. Seven polls were conducted prior to, during and after those shutdowns asking who was to blame, President Clinton or the Republicans in Congress for their lack of compromise. A plurality of respondents said Republicans were more to blame than Clinton in every single poll. Between 43% and 51% blamed Republicans and between 25% and 34% blamed Clinton, depending on the poll.

In 1998, the government almost shut down when Clinton and the Republicans struggled to find compromise on a budget deal. Only one poll was taken on the possible shutdown, by Gallup/CNN/USA Today, and 56% of Americans said they would blame the Republican leaders in Congress if the government had to shut down.

Fast-forward to the next Democratic President, Barack Obama, who was working with a Republican-controlled House and a Democratic-led Senate. After days of budget battles in Congress, a shutdown in 2011 was avoided at the last minute. Thirty-seven percent said in an NBC/WSJ poll that they would blame the Republicans in Congress over Democrats in Congress (20%) or Obama (20%).

A shutdown in 2013 and near-shutdown in 2015 tell similar stories. Of the six polls that asked who would be blamed for the 16-day shutdown in 2013, every one of them had a plurality -- between 38% and 53% -- attributing the blame to the Republicans in Congress. In 2015, when Republicans controlled both the House and Senate, two polls found the blame would go to Republicans and one poll showed a torn public, with some blaming Republicans and some blaming Obama and the Democrats.

While these shutdowns (or close calls) all carry the blame for Republicans, they also share similar circumstances. In 1995, 1996, 1998, 2011, 2013 and 2015, there was a Democratic president in the White House and at least one chamber of Congress controlled by the Republican Party (in four cases, both chambers were controlled by Republicans). So while this could be about blaming Republicans, the shutdown in 2018 shows it may be about blaming the opposite party of the President.

In early 2018 Democrats, despite holding neither chamber of Congress nor the White House, caused a brief shutdown over the plight of the children of undocumented immigrants Trump had stripped of protected status. Seven polls asked who should be or was going to be blamed for the shutdown. Three polls were torn between blaming Republicans and Democrats, two found a plurality who attributed responsibility to the Republicans, one poll went for the Democrats and one was torn between Democrats and Trump.

So Americans seemed to blame everyone that time around. Fewer blamed Trump (between 16% and 31%) than Democrats (between 29% and 34%), but both parties were, in the end, held responsible for the gridlock that caused a shutdown. But that's a change from the past four almost or actual shutdowns. The early 2018 shutdown was the first in 10 years where one party held the presidency, the House and the Senate.

And now, in late 2018? The showdown is over Trump's demand for funding for his wall at the border with Mexico, and Democrats are balking at additional border security money because they say more than $1 billion allocated in January was not entirely spent. Trump holds the presidency, but Democrats will soon be the majority in the House. This blame could be placed on the Democrats, as the opposing party to the President (and would fit with the 1998-2015 trend) or it could be seen as everyone's fault (fitting with the shutdown earlier this year).

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 143879

Reported Deaths: 3676
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto956999
Hinds9541193
Harrison6825105
Jackson6068116
Rankin523796
Lee480294
Madison4602102
Forrest367185
Jones344687
Lauderdale3343142
Lafayette313347
Washington3088106
Lamar281849
Bolivar237883
Oktibbeha237760
Lowndes228362
Neshoba2171113
Panola211047
Marshall207247
Leflore200789
Pontotoc193227
Monroe189577
Sunflower189554
Lincoln183964
Warren172157
Tate163349
Union160125
Pike160058
Copiah158840
Yazoo150638
Scott149929
Coahoma147342
Itawamba145533
Alcorn143724
Simpson143553
Pearl River142967
Prentiss139526
Grenada136344
Adams135948
Leake131643
Holmes124461
George121623
Tippah120930
Covington117234
Winston115824
Wayne115722
Hancock114137
Marion110746
Attala106233
Tishomingo106042
Newton102829
Chickasaw102332
Tallahatchie94727
Clarke88253
Clay86726
Jasper81121
Walthall74328
Stone72314
Montgomery71925
Calhoun71213
Carroll70514
Lawrence69914
Noxubee69017
Smith68616
Yalobusha67926
Perry65225
Tunica59519
Greene58422
Claiborne57416
Jefferson Davis54117
Humphreys52518
Amite50814
Benton48217
Quitman4786
Webster41614
Kemper40815
Wilkinson38422
Jefferson34011
Franklin3185
Sharkey30617
Choctaw3057
Issaquena1114
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 234080

Reported Deaths: 3459
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson30620491
Mobile19306358
Tuscaloosa12501148
Madison12410146
Montgomery12040232
Shelby980576
Baldwin826984
Lee753964
Morgan618247
Calhoun5997113
Etowah590564
Marshall581953
Houston507038
DeKalb463535
Cullman412636
Limestone404544
St. Clair398455
Elmore393961
Lauderdale382953
Walker349096
Talladega335942
Colbert296341
Jackson291924
Blount276336
Autauga263439
Franklin244833
Coffee233415
Dale226654
Dallas220231
Russell21803
Chilton216937
Covington212533
Escambia194431
Tallapoosa169290
Chambers168048
Pike155514
Clarke155419
Marion134535
Winston123723
Lawrence122436
Geneva11748
Marengo116924
Barbour116110
Pickens115318
Bibb114217
Butler113741
Randolph99821
Cherokee98924
Hale91631
Washington90018
Clay89423
Fayette84416
Henry8426
Lowndes78729
Monroe76811
Cleburne74414
Crenshaw70330
Macon70020
Bullock69019
Conecuh66814
Perry6686
Lamar6267
Wilcox62418
Sumter55322
Choctaw41713
Greene40217
Coosa3074
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