Republicans who cheered their leaders' decision Monday night to hold fast on trying to weaken President Barack Obama's health care law through budget negotiations even in the face of a government shutdown may soon come to regret their decision, according to a new poll.
Nearly three-quarters of voters – 72 percent – oppose shutting down the government in order to block or weaken the Affordable Care Act, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday.
While the poll shows the public is split on how they feel about Obamacare – 45 percent support, 47 percent opposed – nearly 6 in 10 voters say Congress should not cut off funding to prevent implementation.
"Americans are certainly not in love with Obamacare, but they reject decisively the claim by Congressional Republicans that it is so bad that it's worth closing down the government to stop it," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, in a memo accompanying the survey results.
There's a clear partisan divide in the public sentiments, with 49 percent of Republicans supporting a shutdown, 90 percent of Democrats opposing one and independents breaking 74 percent to 19 percent against it as well.
Obama, meanwhile, continues to only have middling approval ratings since winning re-election last year. Just 45 percent approve of the job the president is doing versus 49 percent who disapprove. He looks better, though, compared to voters' feelings about the GOP.
"On almost all questions, voters see President Obama as more reasonable and better able to handle the issues," Brown said. "But it is not because the president is beloved. He remains under water in job approval and is tied with Congressional Republicans on who best handles the budget deficit. Voters are angry at almost everyone in Washington over their inability to keep the trains running, but they are madder at the Republicans than the Democrats."
The first federal government shutdown in 17 years began Tuesday, as House Republicans and Senate Democrats failed to agree on a funding proposal. Republicans, fueled by their conservative, tea party members, continued to attach policy riders to the agreed upon temporary funding limits that were rejected by Democrats.
In a final bit of wrangling, Republicans sought to conference with Democrats, but that bid – which had been opposed by Republicans in the weeks and months prior to the shutdown deadline – was rejected by Democratic leadership who saw it as disingenuous.
The poll surveyed 1,497 registered voters from Sept. 23-29 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percent.