Polls: Majority oppose border wall, blame Trump for government shutdown

by Kim Boateng Posted on January 13th, 2019

Washington: Majority of Americans oppose additional funding for the border wall along Mexico and blame President Donald Trump for the subsequent partial government shutdown, according to separate CNN and ABC/Washington Post polls released on Sunday.

As the shutdown enters its 23rd day — the longest in history — 55 percent said Trump is more responsible for the shutdown compared with 32 percent who say the blame rests mostly with the Democrats, according to CNN poll. Nine percent say both are responsible.

In the ABC/Washington Post poll, 53 percent believe Trump and the Republican Party are mainly responsible for the funding disagreement compared with 29 percent who said Democrats in Congress are to blame.

About 25 percent of the government remains shut down, including the Department of Homeland Security, as Democrats refuse to approve Trump’s $5.7 billion funding request for a barrier and Trump says he will veto funding for agencies without money for it.

Among respondents in the ABC/Washington Post poll, 18 percent said they’ve personally been affected by the partial shutdown. Seventy-nine percent said it would be a serious problem or a crisis if it were to continue for months.

Overall, 56 percent oppose a wall and 39 percent favor it in the CNN poll — similar numbers in December. In the ABC/Washington Post poll, 54 percent disapprove building the wall and 42 percent said they approve it.

Support has increased to 42 percent, up from 34 percent a year ago and a previous high of 37 percent in 2017 in the ABC/Washington Post poll.

When asked whether there is a crisis at the border, only a quarter back Trump’s claim and two-thirds oppose him declaring a national emergency to fund a wall there, according to ABC/Washington Post poll. In the CNN poll, 45 percent say it is a crisis and 52 percent it isn’t

Since last month, Trump’s approval rating in the CNN poll has dropped 5 percentage points to 37 percent compared with 57 percent disapproval, which is unchanged. Trump’s lowest approval since becoming president two years ago was was 35 percent in December 2017 and February 2018. It has been 40 percent or higher in nine of the 20 CNN polls. The ABC/Washington Post didn’t ask the approval question.

For the first time, more white people without college degrees disapprove of him at 47 percent compared with 45 percent approval in the CNN poll.

But those whites who do not have college degrees remain in favor of a wall along the border with Mexico — 51 percent by 46 percent. But 45 percent of them blame the president for the government shutdown compared with 39 percent believe it’s the Democrats in Congress.

Blame for the shutdown is along party lines.

In the CNN poll, 89 percent of Democrats blame Trump and 65 percent of Republicans fault Democrats in Congress. Independents are more apt to blame Trump — 48 percent to 34 percent — and are most likely to say both sides are responsible at 14 percent.

In the ABC/Washington Post poll, 85 percent of Democrats and 78 percent of liberals mainly blamed Trump and the GOP for the partial shutdown. Sixty-eight percent of Republicans and 50 percent of conservatives mainly blamed the Democrats in Congress. A third of conservatives blame Trump and the congressional Republicans.

The CNN poll was conducted by SSRS on Thursday and Friday 848 adults with a margin of error of 4.1 percentage points. The ABC/Washington Post poll was conducted by Langer Research Associates among 788 adults on between Tuesday and Friday with a margin of error of 4.5 points.

Both polls were conducted by landlines and cellphones.

Trump promised a wall on the southern border throughout his presidential campaign. He also promised Mexico would pay for it, which he now says will happen through savings from a new trade deal, a claim fact checkers doubt. He has demanded $5.7bn from Congress, which Democrats refuse to give. Senate Republicans will not pass legislation sent by House Democrats to reopen the government without wall funding, as Trump would not sign it.

On Sunday, the Virginia Democratic senator Mark Warner told CNN’s State of the Union: “More border security? Let’s have at it. But while we’re opening the debate, let’s open the government.”

The Wisconsin Republican Ron Johnson, who chairs the Senate homeland security committee, told the same show Democrats should “stop being hypocrites and put their money where their mouth is and fund border barriers. They work”.

On Saturday night, Trump spoke to Fox host Jeannine Pirro by phone. Asked why he had yet to declare a national emergency, to build the wall with funds from military, disaster relief or other budgets, a step Democrats oppose but may be unable to stop, he said he was giving Congress a chance to “act responsibly”. But he also said he had “no idea” whether he will get a deal with House speaker Nancy Pelosi, who opposes funding an “ineffective, wasteful wall” she has also called “immoral”.

On Sunday the president first made an unlikely claim, that “many Hispanics will be coming over to the Republican side” because Democrats do not want to discuss reform to the status of undocumented migrants brought to the US children. The Dreamers issue was at the heart of a shutdown last year in which Trump’s demands for wall spending capsized a potential deal.

An ally of the president, South Carolina Republican senator Lindsey Graham, told Fox News Sunday he encouraged Trump in a telephone conversation that morning to reopen government for a short period, in which he could to try to negotiate a deal, perhaps involving the Dreamers issue.

The Delaware Democratic senator Chris Coons told Fox Graham’s idea was a “great place to start” and Dick Durbin of Illinois, the No2 Democrat in the Senate, told ABC’s This Week Trump could “open up this government tomorrow”, as “one phone call from [majority leader] Mitch McConnell can get it started.”

But Graham said Trump wanted a deal first. The South Carolinian previously encouraged Trump to declare a national emergency, which the president has not done.

“I’m in the White House, waiting,” the president wrote on Twitter. “The Democrats are everywhere but Washington as people await their pay. They are having fun and not even talking!”

In fact Congress was not sitting and many legislators left Washington ahead of a snowstorm. In his Fox interview, Trump said “most” Democrats were “watching a certain musical in a very nice location”.

Host Jeanine Pirro said: “Of course, in Puerto Rico watching Hamilton.”

“Frankly,” Trump said, “it’s ridiculous. The whole thing is ridiculous.”

Around 30 congressional Democrats, Pelosi among them, were expected to visit Puerto Rico as the star and creator of Hamilton, Lin Manuel Miranda, opens the show there. The trips have a political dimension: highlighting recovery work after Hurricane Maria, Trump’s response to which is a continuing source of controversy. Miranda’s father Luis Miranda, a Democratic consultant, told CBS News the politicians would “get to experience first hand the needs of the island, so that they go back and sort of fight Trump and the Republicans.”

Regarding the national emergency idea, officials have explored diverting money from accounts including $13.9bn given to the Army Corps of Engineers after last year’s hurricanes and floods. Other possibilities included asset forfeiture funds, money seized from criminals.

Some outside advisers to Trump say an emergency declaration would allow him to claim he was the one to act to reopen the government. Legal challenges would send the matter to court, but that would allow the president to continue to excite his supporters while not actually closing the government or starting wall construction.

Some Republicans, though, believe such a declaration would usurp congressional power. Johnson told CNN he would “hate to see” an emergency declaration, “because if we do it we would go to court and we would not be building a wall”.

Senators, naturally, see their chamber as key to ending the impasse. Durbin told ABC he thought the shutdown would end “when the Senate Republicans say ‘We’ve had enough. We’re not going to stand here and be blamed for this.’”

Pelosi has argued that Trump is trying to steer attention away from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and other White House problems.

“This is a big diversion, and he’s a master of diversion,” she told reporters.

Trump’s volcanic reaction to reports this weekend in the New York Times and Washington Post suggested he might be losing that mastery.

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Kim Boateng

Kim Boateng

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