Trump’s fight for a border wall is earning the blame he asked for

Image: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque
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In his testy meeting with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer on Dec. 11, Donald Trump was clear about who would bear responsibility for a government shutdown if he couldn’t get at least $5 billion in funding for his long-promised wall along the US-Mexico border.

“I will take the mantle,” he told the top Democrats in Congress. “I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it.”

As the partial shutdown continues, creating ripple effects such as long delays at airports understaffed with security screeners and trash piling up at US national parks and monuments, polls confirm that Americans are giving Trump the blame he asked for.

Results of a new Washington Post-ABC News poll released today (Jan. 13) found that 53% believed Trump and Republicans in Congress were mainly to blame for the shutdown, versus 29% who held the Democrats primarily responsible. The results back up previous findings. In a recent comparison of polls by YouGov, Reuters/Ipsos, and Morning Consult, found that the majority of Americans polled blamed Trump and that the number pointing the finger at him was increasing as the shutdown carried on. More than three weeks in, it is now officially the longest in US history.

The border wall was one of Trump’s main campaign promises and he has continued to push the idea even as most Americans dislike it. The Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 54% of those it surveyed oppose the wall. Support for a wall has been growing, though. In the new Post-ABC poll, 42% of respondents backed the idea, up from 34% a year ago.

Most of that growth has been on the right. “The increase in support is sharpest among Republicans, whose backing for Trump’s long-standing campaign promise jumped 16 points in the past year, from 71 percent to 87 percent,” the Washington Post noted. “Not only has GOP support increased, it has also hardened. Today, 70 percent of Republicans say they strongly support the wall, an increase of 12 points since January 2018.”

Even so, as Nate Cohn recently pointed out at the New York Times, the wall is primarily popular within Trump’s base, and the ongoing shutdown isn’t likely to win him more supporters, particularly as federal workers going unpaid causes additional problems. As public opinion goes, the shutdown isn’t looking like a winning strategy.