Seven in Ten Americans Believe Another Government Shutdown is Likely

    NEW YORK , N.Y. – November 26, 2013 – While his overall approval ratings may be inching downward, on the economy President Obama’s job approval ratings are holding steady. But, since that steady is having three in ten Americans (30%) give President Obama positive ratings for his handling of the economy while 70% give him negative marks, which is unchanged from last month, the White House may not be all that happy with this.

    These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,250 adults surveyed online between November 13 and 18, 2013 by Harris Interactive.

    Where there is a little bit of good news is how Americans feel about the overall economy and their own financial conditions. One-quarter of U.S. adults (25%) believe the economy will improve in the coming year, while 44% say it will stay the same and 32% say it will get worse. Last month, as the nation was coming out of the government shutdown, 22% believed the economy would improve, 37% said it would stay the same and 41% believed it would get worse.

    Looking at individual households, half of Americans (50%) believe their household’s financial condition will stay the same over the next six months, while 20% say it will get better and 30% believe it will be worse. Last month, while about half (48%) said it would stay the same, over one-third (34%) said their household finances would get worse and 18% believed it would be better in the next six months.

    Another shutdown and debt ceiling fight?

    The government shutdown may be a memory, but is it also a precursor of things to come? Since the government is only funded until January 15, 2014, there is a chance for another shutdown, and seven in ten Americans (70%) believe it is likely that the government will shut down again in January while just one in five (21%) believe it is unlikely to shut down. Republicans are more likely than both Democrats and Independents to say it is likely there will be a shutdown in January (79% versus 64% and 67%, respectively).

    Besides the government shutdown, there was also the corresponding fight over raising the debt ceiling, which has now been raised, but will be reached again in February. Thinking about raising the debt ceiling, half of Americans (50%) do not believe it should be raised anymore, while one-quarter believe it needs to be raised again (26%) and 24% are not at all sure. There is a huge partisan difference here, as 72% of Republicans believe the debt ceiling should not be raised compared to one-third (32%) of Democrats; over half of Independents (55%) also believe the debt ceiling should not be raised.

    But, while another government shutdown appears likely to Americans, defaulting does not. Almost half of Americans (46%) say it is not likely that the government will default and not raise the debt ceiling, while one-third (35%) say it is likely the U.S. will default; one in five (19%) are not at all sure.

    One concern is that all the uncertainty in Washington, D.C. may have some people rethinking holiday spending and other things. Luckily, three in five Americans (59%) agree that regardless of what happens in the nation’s capital, their spending habits will not change much over the next few months. But, one-third (34%) say their spending habits will change. More specifically, just over half of U.S. adults (53%) agree that because of the uncertainty with the federal government they will probably spend less on holiday presents this year and 45% say they will be less likely to do any year end charitable giving because of the potential government shutdown in January. One positive is travel, but it is a small one. While just under of Americans (47%) say they are not less likely to plan a vacation away from home in the next few months because of the potential for another government shutdown, 44% say they are less likely to plan this vacation.

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    TABLE 1

    PRESIDENT OBAMA’S JOB RATING ON THE ECONOMY – TREND

    Now, turning to something different, how would you rate the overall job that President Barack Obama is doing on the economy?

    Base: All adults

    2009

    2010

    March

    April

    May

    June

    Aug

    Sept

    Nov

    Dec

    Jan

    Mar

    Apr

    May

    June

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE (NET)

    47

    49

    46

    43

    39

    40

    34

    36

    31

    32

    33

    36

    32

    Excellent

    13

    13

    10

    3

    9

    7

    6

    6

    5

    5

    6

    6

    5

    Pretty good

    34

    36

    36

    34

    31

    33

    27

    30

    25

    27

    27

    30

    27

    NEGATIVE (NET)

    53

    51

    54

    57

    61

    60

    66

    64

    69

    68

    67

    64

    68

    Only fair

    30

    27

    30

    27

    25

    27

    30

    30

    31

    30

    31

    29

    32

    Poor

    23

    24

    24

    30

    36

    33

    37

    34

    39

    37

    36

    34

    37

    2010

    2011

    Aug

    Sept

    Oct

    Nov

    Dec

    Jan

    Feb

    Mar

    May

    June

    July

    Sept

    Oct

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE (NET)

    32

    29

    27

    31

    30

    33

    33

    33

    32

    27

    26

    21

    23

    Excellent

    6

    5

    5

    5

    5

    7

    9

    5

    7

    5

    3

    2

    3

    Pretty good

    26

    24

    22

    26

    25

    26

    24

    28

    26

    22

    23

    18

    20

    NEGATIVE (NET)

    68

    71

    73

    69

    70

    67

    62

    67

    68

    73

    74

    79

    77

    Only fair

    29

    31

    33

    30

    34

    30

    22

    29

    28

    30

    33

    33

    36

    Poor

    39

    40

    39

    39

    36

    37

    39

    38

    40

    43

    41

    46

    41

    2011

    2012

    2013

    Nov

    Dec

    Jan

    Feb

    Mar

    Feb

    Mar

    April

    June

    July

    Sept

    Oct

    Nov

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    POSITIVE (NET)

    22

    25

    25

    32

    32

    36

    33

    39

    35

    33

    29

    30

    30

    Excellent

    3

    4

    2

    3

    5

    4

    6

    6

    5

    5

    4

    5

    6

    Pretty good

    20

    22

    22

    29

    27

    32

    27

    32

    31

    28

    28

    25

    24

    NEGATIVE (NET)

    78

    75

    75

    68

    68

    64

    67

    61

    65

    67

    71

    70

    70

    Only fair

    32

    34

    34

    30

    29

    26

    26

    26

    29

    29

    31

    28

    29

    Poor

    46

    41

    41

    38

    39

    38

    41

    35

    36

    38

    40

    42

    41

    Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding; In February 2012 Not at all sure was offered as a response choice and 4% responded in that way.

     

    TABLE 2

    EXPECTATIONS FOR THE ECONOMY IN THE COMING YEAR – TREND

    In the coming year, do you expect the economy to…?

    Base: All adults

    2009

    2010

    2011

    April

    May

    Aug

    Sept

    Oct

    May

    June

    Aug

    Sept

    Oct

    Nov

    Dec

    Feb

    June

    July

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Improve

    39

    38

    46

    40

    34

    38

    30

    29

    28

    30

    34

    29

    34

    26

    23

    Stay the same

    35

    35

    32

    36

    37

    34

    42

    39

    40

    40

    41

    45

    42

    41

    41

    Get worse

    26

    27

    22

    24

    29

    28

    28

    32

    32

    30

    25

    26

    25

    33

    37

    2011

    2012

    2013

    Sept.

    Oct.

    Dec.

    Feb.

    Feb.

    March

    April

    May

    June

    July

    Aug.

    Sept.

    Oct.

    Nov.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Improve

    21

    20

    23

    36

    32

    30

    29

    32

    32

    29

    27

    22

    22

    25

    Stay the same

    45

    46

    47

    40

    40

    37

    41

    42

    41

    44

    42

    46

    37

    44

    Get worse

    34

    34

    29

    24

    28

    33

    29

    25

    27

    27

    31

    32

    41

    32

    Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 3

    EXPECTATIONS FOR HOUSEHOLD FINANCIAL CONDITION IN NEXT SIX MONTHS

    Thinking about your household’s financial condition, do you expect it to be better or worse in the next 6 months?

    Base: All adults

    2013

    Feb.

    March

    April

    May

    June

    July

    Sept

    Oct

    Nov

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    BETTER (NET)

    23

    21

    22

    26

    24

    24

    19

    18

    20

    Much better

    3

    3

    4

    5

    4

    5

    4

    3

    4

    Somewhat better

    20

    17

    18

    20

    20

    19

    15

    15

    16

    Will remain the same

    50

    49

    49

    50

    53

    49

    52

    48

    50

    WORSE (NET)

    27

    30

    28

    24

    23

    26

    29

    34

    30

    Somewhat worse

    20

    21

    20

    18

    17

    18

    21

    24

    19

    Much worse

    7

    9

    8

    6

    6

    9

    8

    11

    11

    Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding;


    TABLE 4

    ANOTHER GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN

    Thinking again of the recent government shutdown, though the government re-opened and the issues were resolved for the moment, the federal government is only funded until January 15, 2014. How likely, if at all, do you think it is that the federal government will shut down again in January?

    Base: All adults

     

    Total

    Political Party

    Political Ideology

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    Cons.

    Mod.

    Lib.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    LIKELY (NET)

    70

    79

    64

    67

    73

    69

    67

    Very likely

    33

    44

    28

    30

    37

    34

    28

    Likely

    36

    35

    36

    37

    36

    35

    39

    NOT LIKELY (NET)

    21

    14

    26

    25

    18

    21

    26

    Not that likely

    18

    12

    23

    21

    15

    19

    22

    Not at all likely

    3

    2

    3

    3

    3

    2

    4

    Not at all sure

    9

    6

    10

    8

    9

    10

    7

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 5

    RAISE DEBT CEILING

    Besides the government shutdown, there was also the debate about raising the debt ceiling so the U.S. government is able to borrow money to pay its debts. This was resolved and the debt ceiling is currently raised ad won’t be reached again until February 7th, 2014. Thinking about raising the debt ceiling, which is closest to your opinion?

    Base: All adults

     

    Total

    Political Party

    Political Ideology

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    Cons.

    Mod.

    Lib.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    The debt ceiling should not be raised any more

    50

    72

    32

    55

    71

    44

    35

    The debt ceiling needs to be raised again

    26

    11

    42

    23

    12

    29

    41

    Not at all sure

    24

    16

    26

    23

    17

    28

    24

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 6

    WILL DEBT CEILING BE RAISED

    Still thinking about the debt ceiling, how likely, if at all, do you think it is that the federal government will not raise the debt ceiling in February and will therefore default?

    Base: All adults

     

    Total

    Political Party

    Political Ideology

    Rep.

    Dem.

    Ind.

    Cons.

    Mod.

    Lib.

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    LIKELY (NET)

    35

    32

    39

    33

    34

    36

    36

    Very likely

    12

    15

    12

    8

    12

    11

    13

    Likely

    24

    17

    27

    25

    22

    25

    23

    NOT LIKELY (NET)

    46

    50

    41

    52

    49

    45

    44

    Not that likely

    31

    33

    30

    35

    31

    31

    32

    Not at all likely

    15

    18

    11

    17

    19

    13

    11

    Not at all sure

    19

    17

    20

    15

    17

    19

    20

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding


    TABLE 7

    CHANGES IN SPENDING BECAUSE OF WASHINGTON

    How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

    Base: All adults

     

    AGREE

    (NET)

    Strongly

    agree

    Somewhat

    agree

    DISAGREE

    (NET)

    Somewhat disagree

    Strongly disagree

    Not at all sure

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Regardless of what happens in Washington, D.C. my spending habits over the next few months will not change much

    59

    28

    32

    34

    20

    14

    7

    Because of the uncertainty with the federal government, I will probably spend less on holiday presents this year

    53

    28

    25

    40

    21

    19

    7

    I will be less likely to do any year end charitable giving because of the potential government shutdown in January

    45

    23

    21

    44

    23

    21

    11

    The potential for another government shutdown has made me less likely to plan a vacation away from home in the next few months

    44

    23

    21

    47

    22

    25

    10

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between November 13 and 18, 2013 among 2,250 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

    All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

    Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

    These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

    The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

    J43568

    Q705, 710, 715, 720, 725, 730, 735

    The Harris Poll® #90, November 26, 2013

    By Regina A. Corso, SVP, Harris Poll and Public Relations, Harris Interactive

    About Harris Interactive

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