March 2, 2011 - American Voters Split On Government Shutdown, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds; Democrats, Republicans Divided On Gov't Worker Pay

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American voters are split as 46 percent say it would be a good thing and 44 percent say it would be a bad thing if the U.S. government shut down because of disagreement in Washington over federal spending, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

Looking at the controversy over pay for government workers, 35 percent say the pay is "about right," while 15 percent say it is too little and 42 percent say it is too much.

To reduce state budget deficits, collective bargaining for public employees should be limited, 45 percent of American voters tell the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll, while 42 percent oppose limits on collective bargaining. But voters say 63 - 31 percent that government workers should pay more for benefits and retirement programs.

Efforts by governors to limit collective bargaining rights are motivated by a desire to reduce government costs rather than to weaken unions, voters say 47 - 41 percent.

If the federal government is forced to shut down because of the impasse over spending, voters say by an overwhelming 78 - 18 percent neither President Barack Obama nor members of Congress should be paid for that period. Voters would blame Republicans more than President Obama 47 - 38 percent if the government shuts down.

"There is a partisan tinge to American voter attitudes toward government workers: By wide margins, Republicans say these workers are overpaid; want them to pay more for their benefits and want to limit collective bargaining," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

"Democrats say 2-1 that government workers are paid about right or too little, rather than too much and split over whether they should pay more for benefits, but they solidly defend collective bargaining. Independent voters, as usual, are in the middle."

Democrats say 62 - 28 that shutting down the federal government would be a bad thing, the mirror image of Republicans who say 63 - 28 percent it would be a good thing. Among independent voters, 47 percent say "good" and 42 percent saying "bad." Men say it would be a good thing 50 - 40 percent, while women say it would be bad 48 - 41. White voters say it would be good 48 - 42 percent, while blacks voters say bad 59 - 30 percent.

Government workers are paid too much, 59 percent of Republicans say, while 6 percent say too little and 28 percent say pay is "about right." Pay is too much, 42 percent of independent voters say, as 13 percent say too little and 37 percent say "about right." While 31 percent of Democrats say pay is too much, 24 percent say too little and 38 percent say "about right." Men say workers are overpaid, not underpaid 44 - 11 percent, with 39 percent saying "about right." Women agree 41 - 19 percent, with 31 percent saying "about right."

Among voters in union households, 37 percent say pay is too much, with 22 percent saying too little and 34 percent saying "about right."

Democrats split 47 - 45 percent on whether public employees should pay more for their retirement and health benefits, but the call for higher contributions is 72 - 22 percent among Republicans and 70 - 26 percent among independent voters. This support is 68 - 27 percent among men, 58 - 35 percent among women and 67 - 29 percent among white voters, while black voters oppose higher payments 49 - 44 percent.

Support for limiting collecting bargaining to reduce state deficits is 59 - 25 percent among Republicans, while independent voters split 45 - 43 percent. Defending collective bargaining are Democrats 56 - 33 percent and voters in union households 62 - 29 percent. Men are split 47 - 45 percent while women would limit bargaining 43 - 39 percent. White voters split 44 - 43 percent. Black voters back limits 49 - 37 percent.

From February 21 - 28, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,887 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.3 percentage points. Live interviewers call land lines and cell phones.

The Quinnipiac University Poll, directed by Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D., conducts public opinion surveys in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, Ohio and the nation as a public service and for research. For more data or RSS feed- http://www.quinnipiac.edu/polling.xml, call (203) 582-5201, or follow us on Twitter.

33. If congress fails to raise the debt ceiling, the government will be shut down except for those workers deemed essential. - Some people say shutting down the government except for essential personnel would be a bad thing because many federal services would be unavailable. - Others say it would be a good thing because it would stop the government from going further into debt. Which comes closer to your point of view?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Bad thing            44%    28%    62%    42%    40%    48%    42%    59%
Good thing           46     63     28     47     50     41     48     30
DK/NA                10     10     10     11      9     11      9     11
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  POL PHIL.........
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Lib    Mod    Con
 
Bad thing            51%    38%    46%    45%    48%    42%    61%    56%    25%
Good thing           42     53     41     42     46     53     32     36     62
DK/NA                 7      9     13     13      6      5      6      8     14
 
                            EDUCATION.... WHITE.............
                     Union  NoColl Coll   BrnAgn
                     HsHlds Degree Degree Evngl  Prot   Cath
 
Bad thing            51%    42%    50%    30%    37%    38%
Good thing           44     46     44     56     52     52
DK/NA                 5     12      6     13     11     10
 
 
34. If the federal government shuts down, who would you hold more responsible, President Obama or the Republicans in Congress?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Obama                38%    65%    19%    34%    41%    35%    42%    16%
Republicans          47     18     74     48     44     50     43     72
DK/NA                15     17      7     18     15     15     15     12
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  POL PHIL.........
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Lib    Mod    Con
 
Obama                36%    41%    36%    35%    40%    40%    13%    31%    59%
Republicans          51     42     50     46     50     50     75     54     25
DK/NA                13     16     14     18     10     11     12     15     16
 
                            EDUCATION.... WHITE.............
                     Union  NoColl Coll   BrnAgn
                     HsHlds Degree Degree Evngl  Prot   Cath
 
Obama                37%    39%    35%    55%    47%    41%
Republicans          48     44     54     26     37     42
DK/NA                15     16     11     19     16     17
 
                     GOV SHUTDOWN Q33
                     Bad    Good
 
Obama                24%    52%
Republicans          65     32
DK/NA                11     17
 
 
35. There is a bill that would prohibit members of Congress and the President from being paid during a government shutdown. Do you think that bill is a good idea or a bad idea?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Good idea            78%    79%    74%    81%    75%    80%    82%    63%
Bad idea             18     14     22     15     20     15     13     33
DK/NA                 5      6      4      4      4      5      5      4
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  POL PHIL.........
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Lib    Mod    Con
 
Good idea            71%    84%    76%    72%    85%    86%    81%    80%    76%
Bad idea             24     13     19     22     12     13     15     18     17
DK/NA                 5      3      6      6      3      1      4      2      6
 
                            EDUCATION.... WHITE.............
                     Union  NoColl Coll   BrnAgn
                     HsHlds Degree Degree Evngl  Prot   Cath
 
Good idea            85%    76%    81%    81%    81%    85%
Bad idea             12     19     14     13     12     13
DK/NA                 3      5      5      5      7      2
 
                     GOV SHUTDOWN Q33
                     Bad    Good
 
Good idea            76%    84%
Bad idea             21     13
DK/NA                 3      3
 
 
36. In general, do you think public employees are paid too much too little or about right?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Too much             42%    59%    31%    42%    44%    41%    44%    31%
Too little           15      6     24     13     11     19     13     27
About right          35     28     38     37     39     31     35     34
DK/NA                 8      6      8      8      6      9      7      8
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  POL PHIL.........
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Lib    Mod    Con
 
Too much             34%    41%    49%    40%    43%    41%    22%    38%    58%
Too little           25     16      7     17     14     16     27     14     10
About right          38     34     34     34     36     38     43     41     26
DK/NA                 3      9      9      9      7      5      8      8      6
 
                            EDUCATION.... WHITE.............
                     Union  NoColl Coll   BrnAgn
                     HsHlds Degree Degree Evngl  Prot   Cath
 
Too much             37%    46%    33%    51%    47%    49%
Too little           22     15     16     12     14     10
About right          34     31     44     29     32     33
DK/NA                 7      8      6      8      7      9
 
 
37. In order to reduce state budget deficits, would you support or oppose making public employees pay more for their benefits and retirement programs?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Support              63%    72%    47%    70%    68%    58%    67%    44%
Oppose               31     22     45     26     27     35     29     49
DK/NA                 6      6      8      3      4      7      5      7
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  POL PHIL.........
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Lib    Mod    Con
 
Support              49%    67%    69%    57%    65%    76%    52%    59%    73%
Oppose               46     28     24     37     30     20     40     35     23
DK/NA                 5      5      7      6      5      4      8      6      3
 
                            EDUCATION.... WHITE.............
                     Union  NoColl Coll   BrnAgn
                     HsHlds Degree Degree Evngl  Prot   Cath
 
Support              57%    62%    66%    68%    68%    72%
Oppose               39     33     29     27     26     23
DK/NA                 4      6      5      5      6      4
 
                     PUB EMPLY PAY Q36..
                     2Much  2Ltle  Right
 
Support              83%    36%    56%
Oppose               14     58     39
DK/NA                 3      6      5
 
 
38. In order to reduce state budget deficits, would you support or oppose limiting collective bargaining for public employees?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Support              45%    59%    33%    45%    47%    43%    44%    49%
Oppose               42     25     56     43     45     39     43     37
DK/NA                13     16     11     12      8     18     13     13
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  POL PHIL.........
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Lib    Mod    Con
 
Support              38%    48%    47%    43%    43%    53%    26%    39%    62%
Oppose               47     40     40     42     44     41     63     49     26
DK/NA                15     12     14     15     13      5     12     12     13
 
                            EDUCATION.... WHITE.............
                     Union  NoColl Coll   BrnAgn
                     HsHlds Degree Degree Evngl  Prot   Cath
 
Support              29%    44%    47%    51%    48%    49%
Oppose               62     41     45     33     38     40
DK/NA                10     15      8     16     14     11
 
                     PUB EMPLY PAY Q36..
                     2Much  2Ltle  Right
 
Support              63%    29%    33%
Oppose               24     56     59
DK/NA                12     15      8
 
 
39. Do you think the effort to limit collective bargaining by public employees is more about weakening unions or more about controlling government costs?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk
 
Weakening unions     41%    29%    54%    42%    40%    42%    42%    38%
Controlling costs    47     60     36     45     51     43     47     44
DK/NA                12     11     10     13      9     15     11     18
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  POL PHIL.........
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Lib    Mod    Con
 
Weakening unions     38%    44%    39%    39%    45%    46%    61%    50%    27%
Controlling costs    53     44     48     48     43     48     28     41     61
DK/NA                 9     12     13     13     11      6     11      9     13
 
                            EDUCATION.... WHITE.............
                     Union  NoColl Coll   BrnAgn
                     HsHlds Degree Degree Evngl  Prot   Cath
 
Weakening unions     62%    39%    48%    29%    39%    45%
Controlling costs    30     48     43     58     47     47
DK/NA                 8     13      8     13     14      8
 
                     PUB EMPLY PAY Q36..
                     2Much  2Ltle  Right
 
Weakening unions     30%    49%    52%
Controlling costs    59     43     39
DK/NA                11      9      9