The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

October 9, 2013

Poll: GOP gets the blame in shutdown

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans are holding Republicans primarily responsible for the partial government shutdown as public esteem sinks for all players in the impasse, President Barack Obama among them, according to a new poll. It's a struggle with no heroes.

The Associated Press-GfK survey, out Wednesday, affirms expectations by many in Washington — Republicans among them — that the GOP may end up taking the biggest hit in public opinion from the fiscal paralysis, just as that party did when much of the government closed 17 years ago. But the situation is fluid nine days into the shutdown and there's plenty of disdain to go around.

Overall, 62 percent mainly blamed Republicans for the shutdown. About half said Obama or the Democrats in Congress bear much responsibility.

Asked if she blamed Obama, House Republicans, Senate Democrats or the tea party for the shutdown, Martha Blair, 71, of Kerrville, Texas, said, yes, you bet. All of them.

"Somebody needs to jerk those guys together to get a solution, instead of just saying 'no,'" said Blair, an independent. "It's just so frustrating." It's also costly: She's paid to fly with a group to four national parks in Arizona and California next month and says she can't get her money back or reschedule if the parks remain closed.

The poll found that the tea party is more than a gang of malcontents in the political landscape, as its supporters in Congress have been portrayed by Democrats. Rather, it's a sizable — and divisive — force among Republicans. More than 4 in 10 Republicans identified with the tea party and were more apt than other Republicans to insist that their leaders hold firm in the standoff over reopening government and avoiding a default of the nation's debt in coming weeks.

Most Americans disapprove of the way Obama is handling his job, the poll suggests, with 53 percent unhappy with his performance and 37 percent approving of it. Congress is scraping rock bottom, with a ghastly approval rating of 5 percent.

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