Most Americans are predisposed to blame Republicans for the looming government shutdown, but President Obama has seen his own popularity nosedive over the past month.
All of this sets up a scenario in which neither side can leverage public opinion to break the budgetary logjam. Without a temporary spending measure in place by the end of today, much of the government will begin to be shuttered on Tuesday.
The latest survey by CNN/ORC released Monday shows that 46 percent of Americans would hold the GOP responsible for a shutdown. By comparison, 36 percent would fault Obama.
But the president’s advantage on this issue has been eroding. At the start of September, 51 percent of the nation said they would blame congressional Republicans for the shutdown. That’s a five-point swing in the GOP’s favor.
There are two basic explanations for this. First of all, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and House Republicans have staked their argument on either stopping or delaying Obamacare. Just 38 percent of the country favors the 2010 law mandating health insurance, according to the new poll. That figure has fluctuated over time but stayed in roughly the same place.
Secondly, Obama is falling out of favor. Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) have clearly strained their relationship in ways that look difficult to repair, making it hard to see how the president can craft a deal to salvage his own popularity.
Gallup found that the number of Americans disapproving of the president has jumped by seven percentage points to 50 percent over the past month. Polling by Reuters found that 55 percent disapprove of Obama, a whopping 16 percentage-point increase.
But the new survey from CNN does indicate one area where the president still maintains an advantage. Most voters view the GOP as being petulant and unfair in its demands, a reputation that Obama can exploit.
A stunning 69 percent of Americans still identify the GOP as behaving like “spoiled children,” according to the CNN poll. Only 47 percent would also label Obama as a brat.
Brianna Ehley of The Fiscal Times contributed to this article.