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57% Okay With Government Shutdown If It Leads to Deeper Budget Cuts

A majority of voters are fine with a partial shutdown of the federal government if that's what it takes to get deeper cuts in federal government spending.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 57% of Likely U.S. Voters think making deeper spending cuts in the federal budget for 2011 is more important than avoiding a partial government shutdown. Thirty-one percent (31%) disagree and say avoiding a shutdown is more important. Twelve percent (12%) are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Republicans want to make more spending cuts in the current budget than Democrats do, but 36% of voters think it would be better to avoid a government shutdown by authorizing spending at a level most Democrats will agree to. Fifty-seven percent (57%) would rather have a shutdown until Democrats and Republicans can agree on deeper spending cuts.

This shows little change from late February when 58% of voters said it was better to have a partial government shutdown than to keep spending at current levels.

Since then, congressional Democrats have agreed to spending cuts but now are accusing Republicans of being held hostage by the budget-cutting demands of Tea Party voters. The legislators have avoided a shutdown by passing a series of stopgap budget bills, but several conservative Republicans now say they will not support any more of these measures. In the event of a shutdown, payments for things like Social Security, Medicare and unemployment benefits would continue.

Still, a plurality (44%) of voters thinks a partial shutdown of the federal government would be bad for the economy, down four points from February.  Twenty-three percent (23%) say a shutdown would be good for the economy, while a similar number (22%) say it would have no impact, a seven-point increase from the previous survey.

Most voters, as they have for years, say cutting taxes and reducing government spending are best for the economy.

The partisan divide is predictable. Fifty-four percent (54%) of Democrats say avoiding a government shutdown is more important than deeper spending cuts. Seventy-six percent (76%) of Republicans - and 67% of voters not affiliated with either of the major parties - disagree.

Sixty-nine percent (69%) of Democrats feel it's better to authorize spending at a level most legislators from their party will agree to rather than have a partial shutdown until both parties can agree on deeper spending cuts. Seventy-four percent (74%) of GOP voters and 70% of unaffiliateds would rather have a shutdown until an agreement on deeper cuts can be reached.

Democrats also are more than twice as likely as Republicans and unaffiliated voters to believe that a partial government shutdown would be bad for the economy.

There's a similar divide between Political Class and Mainstream voters. Fifty-two percent (52%) of the Political Class say avoiding a shutdown is more important than deeper spending cuts. Sixty-five percent (65%) of Mainstream voters put more emphasis on spending cuts.

Seventy-six percent (76%) of Political Class voters say it is better to avoid a shutdown by authorizing spending at a level most Democrats will agree to. Sixty-six percent (66%) of those in the Mainstream would rather see a shutdown until deeper spending cuts can be agreed on.

Most of those in the Political Class (52%) see a shutdown as bad for the economy, but just 38% of Mainstream voters agree.

Midterm elections and a change of power in the U.S. House of Representatives haven't lowered the level of voter discontent with the federal government and the leaders of the two major political parties.

Voters are less supportive than ever of congressional incumbents, and fewer than one-out-of-three think their own representative is the best person for the job.

Even though Republicans have taken over the House of Representatives, voters still expect government spending, taxes and the deficit to go up over the next two years.

The Obama administration has acted on the belief that increased government spending is good for the economy, but a solid plurality of voters recognize that this view is not widely shared by the American people.

Seventy percent (70%) of voters think voters are more willing to make the hard choices needed to reduce federal spending than elected politicians are.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

Rasmussen Reports is an electronic media company specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion polling information.  We poll on a variety of topics in the fields of politics, business and lifestyle, updating our site's content on a news cycle throughout the day, everyday.

Rasmussen Reports Platinum Members get an all-access pass to polling news, analysis and insight not available to the general public.

Scott Rasmussen , president of Rasmussen Reports, has been an independent pollster for more than a decade. To learn more about our methodology, click here.

The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on March 30-31, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

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©2011 Rasmussen Reports, LLC

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