Most Americans Blame Trump And The GOP For Shutdown, Oppose Border Wall

New polling clearly indicates that the President is losing the battle for public opinion over the government shutdown.

With the government shutdown now officially on course to become the longest in American history, a series of new polls have nothing but bad news for the Trump Administration and Republicans. First, the latest poll from Politico and Morning Consult say that the President and the Republican Party are to blame for the shutdown:

President Donald Trump faces a tall task in his Oval Office address on Tuesday night: convincing voters outside of his political base that there is an urgent crisis at the nation’s southern border, that a wall along the border is necessary to solve it, and it’s worth a government shutdown that has stretched for nearly three weeks.

A new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, conducted as the partial government shutdown reached its third week, reveals the scope of Trump’s challenge. A minority of voters agree with Trump’s description of a crisis of illegal immigration at the southern border. There’s only tepid support for the wall he wants to build there. Voters are opposed to shutting down the government to extract the funds for the wall’s construction — and more blame Trump and the GOP for the shutdown than Democrats.

Nearly half of voters, 47 percent, say Trump is mostly to blame for the shutdown, the poll shows, while another 5 percent point the finger at congressional Republicans. But just a third, 33 percent, blame Democrats in Congress.


[President Trump] has described conditions along the border from California east to Texas as “a crisis” — but less than half of voters (42 percent) view it as ‘a crisis,’ the poll shows. There is, however, widespread belief that the border is a serious issue: In addition to the 4-in-10 voters who say the border situation is ‘a crisis,’ another 37 percent say the U.S. has ‘a problem’ along the border, though they don’t view it as a crisis.

Just 12 percent say the U.S. faces neither a crisis nor a problem at the border.

The poll underscores Trump’s challenge in building popular support for his border policy and the shutdown it has sparked. He has the backing of his core supporters — which has served to perpetuate the fight over the border wall — but a majority of Americans don’t believe the border issue has reached crisis proportions. More than seven-in-10 Republicans, 72 percent, say the U.S. faces a crisis at the southern border, and 82 percent favor the wall.

“Our polling suggests Republican voters are responding well to President Trump’s handling of the contentious battle around the government shutdown,” said Tyler Sinclair, Morning Consult’s vice president. “Notably, 69 percent of Republican voters blame congressional Democrats, and 15 percent blame President Trump for the government shutdown. Among the same group, the president’s approval crept upward, with 84 percent approving and 15 percent disapproving of his performance this week, compared to 81 percent approval and 18 percent disapproval pre-shutdown.”

But support from Republicans belies the president’s overall standing in the fight. Trump’s overall approval rating in the poll (43 percent), support for a border wall (44 percent) and the percentage of voters who say there is a crisis at the southern border (42 percent) are all in the low 40s. Among independent voters, Trump’s approval rating is 38 percent, 37 percent believe there is a crisis at the southern border and 37 percent support the construction of a border wall.


While more voters oppose construction of a border wall in the poll than support it, 47 percent to 44 percent, the POLITICO/Morning Consult poll shows slightly less opposition to the wall than other public surveys conducted before the shutdown. In a pre-shutdown Quinnipiac University poll last December, 54 percent of voters opposed a border wall, while 43 percent of voters favored one — the greatest level of support for the wall since Quinnipiac began asking about a wall in 2016.

But even if the wall was popular, the POLITICO/Morning Consult poll suggests voters would oppose shutting down the government to secure funding for it. Nearly two-thirds, 65 percent, say the president shouldn’t shut down the government to achieve his policy goals, while only 22 percent say a temporary shutdown is acceptable to change policy.

The numbers in a new Reuters/Ipsos poll are similar:

A growing proportion of Americans blame President Donald Trump for a partial government shutdown that will cut off paychecks to federal workers this week, though Republicans mostly support his refusal to approve a budget without taxpayer dollars for the U.S.-Mexico border wall, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Tuesday.

The national opinion poll, which ran from Jan. 1 to Jan. 7, found that 51 percent of adults believe Trump “deserves most of the blame” for the shutdown, which entered its 18th day on Tuesday. That is up 4 percentage points from a similar poll that ran from Dec. 21 to 25.

Another 32 percent blame congressional Democrats for the shutdown and 7 percent blame congressional Republicans, according to the poll. Those percentages are mostly unchanged from the previous poll.


Public support for a border wall has shifted considerably over the past few years as it became a centerpiece of the Trump agenda. The poll found that 41 percent of the public supports building additional border fencing, down 12 points from a similar poll that ran in the first week of 2015, as opposition doubled among Democrats.

It also found that only 35 percent of adults in the United States support a congressional spending bill that includes funding for the wall, and 25 percent support Trump’s decision to keep the government closed until Congress approves funding for the wall.

Republicans, however, strongly support Trump’s pursuit of an expanded border wall. They have consistently ranked immigration as their top concern for the country. Seventy-seven percent of Republicans said in the most recent poll that they want additional border fencing, and 54 percent said they support Trump shutting down the government until Congress approves funding for the wall.

Similarly, a new poll from The Huffington Post shows that an increasing number of Americans are beginning to view the shutdown as a serious matter and that they blame the President for it. Specifically, 51% of those surveyed say that President Trump deserves at least partial responsibility for the shutdown, while 41% blame Democrats in Congress and 35% saying that Republicans in Congress deserve at least some of the blame. These numbers are largely consistent with where they stood last week. Finally, a new poll from The Hill finds that the vast majority of Americans want leaders in Washington to compromise:

President Trump has said that shutting down the federal government in support of his demand for a southern border wall is a “total winner” for him politically, but according to a new poll, the only people who oppose compromise on the issue are his strongest backers

An overwhelmingly 70 percent of registered voters in the latest The Hill-HarrisX poll said they want Trump and Congress to reach some sort of compromise, compared to just 30 percent who say that sticking to principles is more important than ending the partial shutdown.

The poll found that while Trump’s most fervent supporters approve of refusing to bend, no other demographic group did. Even then, voters who said they “strongly approve” of Trump did so by only a slim margin of 54 percent to 46 percent.

Voters who only somewhat approve of Trump were strongly in favor of compromise with 70 percent saying they wanted to see an accord reached while only 30 percent said they wanted policymakers to stick to principles.

That only Trump’s most fervent backers reject compromise may be politically problematic for the president since only 21 percent of voters said they strongly approve of him.

Among Republicans as a whole, a majority of 61 percent said they wanted a compromise while 39 percent said that staying tough was their preference.

People who somewhat disapproved of Trump favored a deal by a 78 percent to 22 margin, while those who strongly disapprove of the president said they wanted compromise 79 percent to 21 percent.

These numbers are consistent with both polling conducted before the shutdown began and polls taken in the immediate aftermath of the shutdown that showed most Americans blaming the President for the shutdown, and that is starting to impact public perception of Republicans as well. In addition to this, polling has clearly indicated that the American public is largely opposed to the Republican Party’s current orthodoxy on immigration. Polling released earlier this year showed similar disapproval for the border wall and the rest of the GOP’s immigration policy. Throw into that mix the significant public opposition to the Trump Administration’s zero tolerance and family separation policies, both of which continue to be a source of problems on the southern border, as well as recent polling from National Public Radio and Morning Consult and it becomes clear that the President and the Republican Party are on the wrong side of this issue politically and that there really is no way that they can “win” this issue.

All of this comes at the same time that polling is also showing that the President’s job approval is also being negatively impacted by the ongoing shutdown. In the RealClearPolitics poll average, for example, the President’s average job approval stands at 42.4% while his disapproval stands at 53.7%, giving the President an -11.3 point gap in job approval. In the Pollster average, the President stands at 43.1% approval and 50.9% disapproval, for a gap of -7.8 point gap. Finally, in the FiveThirtyEight average, the President stands at 41.1% while his disapproval stands at 53.8%, for a gap of -12.7%. While these numbers are consistent with what we’ve seen throughout the Trump Presidency, they also tend to indicate that there is no indication at all that the President is “winning” this argument, and plenty of evidence to believe that he’s losing. Whether and when he’ll recognize that fact, though, is another question.

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, Congress, Deficit and Debt, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. CSK says:

    Judging from the way he looked and sounded last night, be may be beginning to realize that the wall is a winning issue with only 20% of the electorate. I’m a bit surprised he hasn’t held a rally to boost his ego and spirits.

  2. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    The funniest part of all this is if you listen to anyone that lives along the border…they are like…WTF are you idiots talking about?
    Basically this all comes down to an adderall addict trying to gin up a bunch of rednecks in fly-over country.
    So yeah…they won’t win.

  3. Kathy says:

    What’s needed is comprehensive immigration reform. But that’s not going to happen any time soon, especially as long as a large portion of the Republican electorate favors the “kick everyone out and don’t let anyone in” principle.

    The plain fact is immigration to the US is far too restrictive, while there is a high demand for immigrants which current limits cannot meet. What you get is people coming in irregularly. A wall won’t change that.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Funny how there is all of a sudden a crises at our southern border just weeks after trump sent all the troops back home from their deployment to deny them a family thanksgi… I mean “deny people in the caravan entry”. I wonder what changed in those few short weeks?

    Meanwhile, in the real world:

    President Donald Trump himself said Thursday that border agents had “apprehended, last year, 17,000 criminals trying to get across the border.”

    But that’s only partially true.

    According to the Department of Homeland Security’s latest statistics, yes, 16,831 “criminal aliens” were encountered by Customs and Border Protection in Fiscal Year 2018, excluding the final month of September. (The US government’s fiscal year begins on Oct. 1 and ends on Sept. 30.) That seems pretty black and white. The final number for FY18 will probably be even higher once September’s figures are added. (The DHS website is not being updated because of the shutdown.) However, a full 63 percent of those individuals were “encountered” by the Office of Field Operations (OFO). Those are the people you meet at the airport and at border crossings. In other words, the “criminal aliens” they encountered were travelers who failed routine checks at legal entry points and were denied entry.

    When a non-US person enters the country, their fingerprint is electronically checked, they go through a facial-recognition screening and of course, their name is checked. If any of these gets a hit on a law enforcement database, the person is deemed inadmissible and goes back the way they came.

    Only 6,259 individuals of the 362,000 individuals apprehended by Border Patrol were actually found to have criminal convictions. Those individuals get fast-tracked for deportation. That still seems like a big number though. But take a look at their crimes. A full 47 percent of the 6,259 individuals were convicted for illegally entering or re-entering the United States. 14 percent have DUIs. One in ten has a drug offense.

    Only 13 percent — or 800 people — have records of violence or convictions for sexual or firearms offenses. That’s less than 1 percent of the total 362,000 apprehended by the Border Patrol in that period.

    That’s a ratio of 1:450. By contrast, one in 12 adult Americans has a felony conviction.

    Seems like if stopping crime is the goal, we’re deporting the wrong people.

  5. Michael Reynolds says:

    The beauty part is that among those who blame Trump for the shutdown is Trump. Loudly, publicly, and on video.

  6. Gustopher says:

    Most Americans Blame Trump And The GOP For Shutdown, Oppose Border Wall

    Most Americans, or most Real Americans? Because, I don’t think Trump gives a shit about the views of anyone who isn’t a Real American.

  7. Kathy says:


    Seems like if stopping crime is the goal, we’re deporting the wrong people.

    Does exile qualify as cruel and unusual punishment?

    Besides, what country would take American felons? No, you’d have to cordon off a state, or part of one, and set up an internal exile/forced labor combo.

  8. James Pearce says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    The beauty part is that among those who blame Trump for the shutdown is Trump.

    Schumer’s on CNN right now complaining that Trump walked out of their White House meeting. You think Trump is really worried about “being blamed?”

  9. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Pelosi on people being harmed by Dennison’s shutdown:
    “He thinks maybe they can just ask their father for more money, but they can’t.”
    I’m starting to like her more…

  10. Michael Reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:
    No, of course he’s not worried because he’s a big, white, alpha male and big, white alpha males always come out on top. Right?

    You are so desperate to bend the knee. Go ahead, no one cares. Worship the fly-specked pig’s head. Bow down to the testosterone beast, little buddy and show all those women and gays and Oregonians who like tiny houses that men still rule. We all know you want to.

  11. James Pearce says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    No, of course he’s not worried because he’s a big, white, alpha male and big, white alpha males always come out on top.

    He’s not worried because he’s playing the Cleveland Browns of politics.

  12. Kathy says:

    @James Pearce:

    We’ve already credited you as originating the Pearcean Defeat. There’s no need to lay another claim on it.

  13. gVOR08 says:

    @James Pearce: Whether Trump is worried about being blamed or not is irrelevant to Reynold’s statement that Trump blamed Trump. We have Trump on video doing so.

  14. CSK says:

    Trump said after he stomped out of the meeting that he may still invoke a national emergency.

  15. James Pearce says:


    We’ve already credited you as originating the Pearcean Defeat.

    The Dems have so little leverage Trump walked out of the negotiation going, “Bye-bye” and the government is still shutdown.

  16. James Pearce says:


    We have Trump on video doing so.

    If you saw that video and thought, “Aha, we can blame him for the shutdown” you should think again.

    That video proves Trump wasn’t going to play the blame game. It’s now a war of attrition and I’m pretty sure the Dems are going to blink before Trump does.

  17. Kathy says:

    FiveThirtyEight has even better news for Dennison. More people blame him for the shutdown now than did when it first started. The democrats get mixed numbers, one poll saying their share of the blame was up two points, while two others sat it went down 1 or two points.

    Read all about it here.

    It gets better. More people now disapprove of how congressional Republicans are handling the shutdown.

    The reason Trump is still holding his breath and turning orange-purple until the Democrats give in, is because his base approves of him and blames the Democrats. And that’s the only number he cares about.

    For now.

  18. Pylon says:

    @James Pearce:

    That video proves Trump wasn’t going to play the blame game.

    Until he plays the blame game. Like last night.

    It also shows he’s a liar.

  19. DrDaveT says:

    Question for James Joyner:

    James, do you still oppose the right of federal employees to strike? If feds could strike, this shutdown would never have happened, and even if it started it would have lasted only until the air traffic controllers decided to take a break until pay resumed.

  20. Moosebreath says:

    @James Pearce:

    “The Dems have so little leverage Trump walked out of the negotiation going, “Bye-bye” and the government is still shutdown.”

    By that “logic”, Trump has so little leverage that he walked out of the negotiation going “Bye-bye” and there is still no appropriation for the wall.

  21. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    The problem is that the situation is complete bizarre. This government shutdown is not only hostage taking, but a situation where someone has taken himself as hostage.

  22. Bob@Youngstown says:

    advance apologies for the OT (but slightly related) question:

    Mentioned on Morning Joe (1/9/18) during the 8am hour. An Obama program that allowed some persons to apply for asylum while in their home country (such as Guatemala) without having to have a diplomatic referral (as is required for refugee status). Said program was “shuttered by Trump administration last year”, thereby requiring asylum seekers to journey through Mexico to port of entry. Does anyone know the name of this program?

  23. DrDaveT says:

    @James Pearce:

    The Dems have so little leverage Trump walked out of the negotiation

    So, which is it? Is it that the Dems have no leverage, or that they’re playing their hand wrong? You seem to be arguing both simultaneously, which is… not right.

  24. An Interested Party says:

    Oh look…from one lap dog to another…

  25. Tess says:

    i don’t believe that, why do you think he was elected? because we the sheeple voters want one.

  26. Michael Reynolds says:

    He doesn’t know. Pearce hates women, that’s his ‘ideology.’ He’s just another pitiful incel misogynist who hated Hillary and worships what he sadly conceives of as an alpha male. That’s really all there is to Pearce, that’s why he can never articulate a policy or offer actual arguments. Look at everything he’s ever said and it comes down to a desire to grovel to a man-beast because the man-beast must win in Pearce’s cosmology. It’s just pitiful.

  27. James Pearce says:

    @Pylon: Until he plays the blame game.That is not the game he’s playing…


    By that “logic”, Trump has so little leverage that he walked out of the negotiation going “Bye-bye” and there is still no appropriation for the wall.

    Well, you thought you’d pwn me, but you actually bring up a good point. It’s true: Trump also has very little leverage, hence his strategy.

    A responsible opposition wouldn’t collude with a crazy person to keep the government shut down for a month over some booooolshit.


    Is it that the Dems have no leverage, or that they’re playing their hand wrong?

    The Dems have no leverage, but they’re playing their hand like they have all leverage. Hence, they are playing their hand wrong.

    @Michael Reynolds:

    He’s just another pitiful incel misogynist who hated Hillary and worships what he sadly conceives of as an alpha male.

    I’m over here asking whether closing the government to “stop Trump from getting his wall*” is too high a price to pay and you’re just calling me names again?

    * You’re not going to “stop” him from building his “wall,” okay? Understand that. Democrats will appropriate money for “border security” and Trump, a demagogue, will call it a wall, even if it’s just a ditch filled with broken glass and garbage.

  28. Moosebreath says:

    @James Pearce:

    “A responsible opposition wouldn’t collude with a crazy person to keep the government shut down for a month over some booooolshit.”

    Umm, no. A responsible opposition is able to think far ahead enough to see that if the shutdown ends with money for Trump’s wall and nothing for them, there will be additional shutdowns on a regular basis for the remainder of Trump’s Presidency. Therefore, it needs to be made clear, even to one whose imagination is as limited as Trump’s, that the shutdown was not a success.

    Therefore, either there needs to be (a) no money for the wall as part of the resolution, or (b) enough wins for the Democrats included in the resolution, so that Trump views this as a tactic not to repeat. The fact that several Republican senators are leaking that they are talking about option (b) suggests who really does have leverage here.

  29. James Pearce says:

    @Moosebreath: So it’s a teaching moment, then? Trump’s gotta know he can’t mess with federal workers every time Chuck and Nancy want to prove they’re tough cookies?

    Democrats aren’t going to get anything here. Best case scenario is that they’re going to re-open the government while giving up very little of what Trump wants.

  30. An Interested Party says:

    Trump’s gotta know he can’t mess with federal workers every time Chuck and Nancy want to prove they’re tough cookies?

    More like Trump has to learn that throwing temper tantrums and holding the federal government hostage won’t get him what he wants…

  31. Moosebreath says:

    @James Pearce:

    “Trump’s gotta know he can’t mess with federal workers every time Chuck and Nancy want to prove they’re tough cookies?”

    Time seems to work backwards in your world. Let us know when you return to ours.

  32. Anthony Robinson says:

    Wall full of holes

    Will you wall building dreamers look like fools after #Billions are spent and black helicopters continue to jump back and forth across the border.? Check border town news papers like Brownsville for instance. Copters are chased but very seldom caught.

    Don’t forget about modern day drones. The best little drug mules in Texas, not to mention Arizona, New Mexico and California.

    Also there are tunnels that come and go. Walls went out in the early 1800s.
    Real drug dealers arrive at airports with the best forged documents drug money can buy. They never go near any border wall, much less even think of it.

    What happened to the Berlin Wall?? TG

  33. Matt says:

    @Anthony Robinson: I live near Brownsville and I have no idea what you’re talking about.

    You are right though about the ineffectiveness of walls. The drug runners adapted to that stuff long ago. Drones are on the uptick for sure and most drugs go through ports these days.