What Does America Think About the Government Shutdown?

Updated on January 26, 2018
My Esoteric profile image

MY ESOTERIC likes to think of himself as a bit of a polymath with degrees in Statistics, Accounting, Computer Science, & Operations Research

On Friday January 19th, 2018, President Trump, the GOP, and the Democrats could not come to terms about what to do with the 800,000 Americans who were brought here, through no fault of their own, as children. President Trump set the ball rolling in September when he ended President Obama's DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program to give them temporary legal status.

He gave Congress until March before he would start deporting them. The GOP punted and did nothing between September and December. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and a few others crafted a bipartisan DACA deal to offer to President Trump who previously had said he would sign any bipartisan deal brought to him, whether he liked it or not. They gave him what he wanted on Thursday, December 11, 2017 and Trump rejected it with his now infamous remark about "shit hole countries," referring to various African nations, Haiti, El Salvador, and several other Caribbean nations.

Behind the scenes, Republican leaders were working to tank the Graham-Durbin bill while the government rushes toward a shut down. And shut down it did.

On Friday, before the final vote to keep the government open failed, CNN released the results of a study they commissioned SRSS to determine how America feels about all of this in the days leading up to the self-inflicted crisis.

I want to present some of the results of the survey that I hope you find interesting. I am going to skip the top level responses and drill down to the details for each question. Furthermore, I will only focus on the results from independents (who tend to lean Right as a group) and moderates (who are much more in the middle) since they most likely represent what thoughtful Americans feel about this mess.

We know where Democrats and Republicans come down and what their differences are. What is more nuanced are the differences, if any, between how independents and moderates see things.

Question 1

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Donald Trump is handling his job as president?


 
INDEPENDENTS %
MODERATES %
APPROVE
40
34
DISAPPROVE
51
61
OTHER
10
6
Margin of Error
+/- 5.7
+/- 5.9

Notice that in both cases, the middle is not happy at all with how President Trump's been doing his job. Why is this important here, and in the rest of questions? Because these are the people who will keep Trump and the GOP in office or toss them out.

Note - I included a piece of data called the "Margin of Error (MoE)". Because surveys are statistical in nature, they are subject to error. For those who care the MoE says that with a 95% confidence the result is correct. For example, the +/- 5.7 points above says that the "Approve" result of 40% 'could' be as high as 45.7% or as low as 34.3%. The same would be true for the 5.9 MoE which says the 34% could range of 39.7% and 28.1%.

The importance of the above is it can be used to determine whether the the two sets of numbers, Independents and Moderates, are really different from one another. In our example there is no real difference between how Independence and Moderates feel about how President Trump is doing.

You can use this kind of logic to assess the remaining questions.

Question 2

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Donald Trump is handling Immigration?

 
INDEPENDENTS %
MODERATES %
APPROVE
39
32
DISAPPROVE
52
62
OTHER
8
6
Margin of Error
5.7
5.9

The numbers on this question are a little bit worse. But the gist is that thinking Americans don't like how Trump is handling the immigration issue.

Question 11

11. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job?

 
INDEPENDENTS %
MODERATES %
APPROVE
16
19
DISAPPROVE
77
78
OTHER
7
3
Margin of Error
5.7
5.9

This result should be a surprise to no one. It turns out the Democrats and Liberals feel the same way as independents and moderates. Only Republicans and Conservatives have a slightly higher (23%) impression of Congress

Question 12 A

12A. How important is it to you that the president and Congress deal with the program (DACA) which allows immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children to stay?

IMPORTANCE
DEMOCRAT %
INDEPENDENTS %
MODERATE %
REPUBLICAN %
Extremely/Very
80
61
62
45
Moderately
15
23
26
33
Not Very
4
13
11
19
Other
1
3
2
3
Margin of Error
5.2
5.7
5.9
7.5

Obviously DACA is very important across all aspects of American society. Even 78% of Republicans think it is important to some degree. I included Democratic and Republican responses on this one to highlight the divide and to help explain why the government was shut down. Almost twice as many Democrats as Republicans feel solving DACA is Extremely or very important. Worse for Republicans, in terms of perception, the somewhat Right-leaning independents also view fixing DACA much more importantly than does the GOP.

Question 12 B

12B. How important is it to you that the president and Congress deal with protecting the nation's elections from foreign interference?

IMPORTANCE
INDEPENDENTS %
MODERATES %
Extremely/Very
76
77
Moderately
16
17
Not Very
7
5
Other
2
1
Margin of Error
5.7
5.9

The Republican political narrative is that Russian involvement is not a real issue and had zero impact on the results of the 2016 election. The implication with this line of thought is that it is not very important.

Clearly, the public does not agree with that assessment, judging from the above results. Know also that the rank and file of Democrats/Liberals and Republicans/Conservatives are not very much different than the middle.

The bottom line is the public clearly buys into the foreign interference story and want the president and congress to do something about it.

Question 12 D

12D. How important is it to you that the president and Congress deal with Improving the nation's infrastructure?

IMPORTANCE
INDEPENDENTS %
MODERATES %
Extremely/Very
76
72
Moderately
17
21
Very Little
6
6
Other
1
1
Margin f Error
5.7
5.9

Improving America's infrastructure is again a no-brainer for most Americans, regardless of political stripe. Surprisingly, while Democrats/Liberals, Independent/Moderates, and Republicans have virtually the same responses; Conservatives support improving infrastructure much more strongly at 84%.

© 2018 My Esoteric

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    • My Esoteric profile imageAUTHOR

      My Esoteric 

      7 months ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      That is the same argument you have made in the past and it is still wrong for professional polling organizations. They understand all about the points you make and correct for them in many different ways. That is why people have been paying them piles of money for decades to do the surveys; and will continue to do so.

      I assume you do believe those people running our biggest corporations are smart and that they make intelligent decisions when they hire polling companies to do surveys, both product and political.

    • bradmasterOCcal profile image

      bradmasterOCcal 

      7 months ago from Orange County California

      Sampling only is somewhat accurate if the results of the poll sways the reader. Too many people follow the heard, and also they want to be less controversial. My point is that these people would say what ever appears to be popular and they will not be attacked because they say it.

      It is like a voltmeter that becomes part of the circuit that it is testing, giving a false reading.

      :)

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