During the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, support for President Donald Trump remained consistent across the country, according to a newly released poll.
The survey, from the Wall Street Journal and NBC News, showed approval for Trump, weeks into the shutdown of about a quarter of the federal government, was exactly the same as when it started.
The poll, conducted over a four-day period that ended on Jan. 23 — two days before Trump signed a three-week continuing resolution to reopen the government until Feb. 15 with no funding for his planned wall along the U.S. border with Mexico — showed Trump’s support levels did not change from before the shutdown began.
“Mr. Trump’s approval rating was at 43% in a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, with 54% disapproving of his job performance,” the Wall Street Journal’s Michael Bender wrote. “That was the same mark as in a December survey taken 10 days before the start of the shutdown. The latest survey was conducted over a four-day period that ended Jan. 23, two days before Mr. Trump backed off his demand for border wall funding in what was widely viewed as a victory for congressional Democrats.”
Trump had been coasting through the shutdown, at least until Friday, with hardly any political repercussions. But Republicans on Capitol Hill, perturbed by reports of airport delays due to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) workers slow-walking flights as the shutdown dragged on since before Christmas, pressured Trump to take a deal that ended it at least for now.
Pundits and political prognosticators blamed Trump for the shutdown, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has gloated over her victory over the president in their first battle. The polling data does show that the public puts the onus for the shutdown on Trump, but their opinion of him has not changed much.
“Mr. Trump’s approval rating was steady even though more Americans blame the president than Congress for the shutdown, a change from past funding fights,” Bender wrote. “Mr. Trump bears responsibility for the funding lapse, according to 50% of respondents, compared with 37% who said Democrats in Congress were most to blame.”
Nonetheless, Pelosi is in full-scale victory tour mode. “First you start with a feather,” Pelosi said of her victory, according to the Daily Beast, “then you move to a sledgehammer.”
What happens next is anyone’s guess, but Trump really was not under pressure from the public — only under pressure from Washington politicians and the media — to reopen the government. The government is funded through Feb. 15, and Trump has left open the possibility of another shutdown or a declaration of a national emergency where he would use executive authority to build the wall. Democrats, meanwhile, jubilant from their win last week are refusing to negotiate with Trump on the wall.
This survey also does not take into account the public’s view of the deal Trump made on Friday to reopen the government without his wall, including especially what his supporters at large think of it. Seeing new polling data on that front in the coming days and weeks may inform his decisions on what to do next.