New poll sheds light on effect of US government shutdown

A new survey finds that four in 10 Americans either are affected by partial shutdown or know someone who is affacted.

Government workers and their supporters hold signs during a protest in Boston
Government workers and their supporters hold signs during a protest in Boston last week against the US government shutdown [File: Michael Dwyer/Reuters]

Nearly four in 10 adults in the United States say they are either personally affected by the partial government shutdown or they know someone who is, according to a Reuters/Ipsos public opinion poll released on Tuesday.

The January 8-14 poll showed that the shutdown, now the longest in US history, has affected a much larger chunk of the public than the 800,000 federal workers who were either furloughed or required to work without pay.

The poll comes as tensions continue to mount over US President Donald Trump‘s decision to allow the shutdown, which has not brought him any closer to reaching a deal with Democrats on his proposed US-Mexico border wall, to continue

The online poll focused on how the public perceives the shutdown, asking more than 2,000 respondents what kind of firsthand experience, if any, they have had with the government closures.


It asked whether their family had lost any income, expected to lose income or relied on any government services that had been shut down.

The poll also asked if respondents “personally know someone” who had lost income, expected to lose income, or relied on government services that are now closed.

Altogether, 38 percent said they met at least one of those conditions. Another 37 percent said they have not been affected by the shutdown, and 25 percent said they do not know.

Border wall 

The shutdown began on December 22 after Congress did not follow through on Republican President Trump’s request for $5.7bn to help build a new barrier along the US-Mexico border.

Chances of funding the border wall became even more remote in January when Democrats, who are largely opposed to funding a wall, took control of the US House of Representatives.

Republicans continue to hold the Senate.

With the shutdown stretching into its 25th day on Tuesday, neither side appeared ready to give any ground. Trump invited a bipartisan group of politicians to discuss the budget over lunch, but the White House said Democrats declined to show up.

Numerous federal agencies have partially closed or asked contractors to stop working. Coastguard personnel are working without pay, the National Park Service has stopped collecting rubbish, and the Smithsonian museums have closed their doors to the public.

The White House estimated the shutdown is costing the American economy 0.13 percentage point in growth every week.

When asked who deserved most of the blame for the shutdown, the poll found that 51 percent of the public said it was Trump. Another 34 percent blamed Democrats in Congress and six percent blamed Republicans in Congress.


The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online in English throughout the US. It gathered responses from 2,343 adults, including 1,016 Democrats, 787 Republicans, and 321 independents. It has a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of 2 percentage points.

On Monday, another poll found that American voters “believe there is both a humanitarian and a security crisis along the southern border, [but] they absolutely don’t think a wall will solve the problem.” 

Published by Quinnipiac University, that survey concluded that most Americans believe the wall would be a waste of money, would not secure the southern border and would be contradictory to US values. 

Source: News Agencies