WSJ/NBC Blame Game Poll Out Today

MSNBC released an advance peek into their poll with the Wall Street Journal on just whom would be held responsible for the possible government shutdown.

A plurality of 37 percent say they would blame congressional Republicans if the current budget disagreement leads to a shutdown of the federal government, while 20 percent say they would blame President Obama and another 20 percent would blame congressional Democrats.

Seventeen percent say they would blame everyone, and another 2 percent say they would blame both Obama and congressional Democrats.

What do our 538 Refugees think?


About Mr. Universe

Mr. Universe is a musician/songwriter and an ex-patriot of the south. He currently lives and teaches at a University in the Pacific Northwest. He is a long distance hiker who has hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. He is also an author and woodworker. An outspoken political voice, he takes a decidedly liberal stance in politics.
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40 Responses to WSJ/NBC Blame Game Poll Out Today

  1. Mr. Universe says:

    Not entirely sure why President Obama gets his own category.

  2. Mule Rider says:

    “Not entirely sure why President Obama gets his own category.”

    Um, he is the President, after all, the sole member of the Executive Branch of our government.

  3. WA7th says:

    (Mr U has manners. I was gonna say 20% are idiots.)

    Shenanigans! This is a vanity hogwash poll. They shouldn’t all be “blame” questions. There should be corresponding “thanks” options for those who think a shut-down is a good thing. 96% know the issue exists, AND all have an opinion about whom to blame? Yeah, right.

  4. Monotreme says:

    MR,

    So explain to us, citing Constitutional text, how the Executive Branch drives the budgetary process.

  5. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Mono,

    Good try.

    I KEEP asking for the same Constitutional clause where it says the Executive has ANY other role than signing the appropriations bill enacted by Congress.

    They have been silent.

    Except to repeat the false charge.

  6. Mule Rider says:

    “So explain to us, citing Constitutional text, how the Executive Branch drives the budgetary process.”

    I’m not going to get into a silly, semantical, sophistic (enough alliteration for you?!) game of pinpointing the duties and responsibilities of the office of President of the United States. If you are unable or unwilling to understand/acknowledge his role of being the ONE individual who fully represents ONE-THIRD of our ENTIRE GOVERNMENT in this discussion of a possible GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN, then there is really no busy wasting time seeing which one of us can piss the farthest.

  7. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    I’m not going to get into a silly, semantical, sophistic (enough alliteration for you?!) game . . . which one of us can piss the farthest.

    Translation:

    “I have absolutely NO, ZERO, NADA, ZIP, ground to stand on. It does NOT exist. My mouth wrote a check that my ass couldn’t cover. So I shall double down on expressing wrong-headed opinion, while standing here dribbling out a few, weak drops of urine”

  8. Monotreme,

    explain to us, citing Constitutional text, how the Executive Branch drives the budgetary process.

    Seriously? You have to ask this? OK, then…from Article I, Section 7:

    Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by Yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.

    So there’s no point in drafting a budget that neither the President, nor two-thirds of both houses agree to. Why not front-load the process, and get the President’s buy-in? That requires only one person to agree, which is a great deal easier than getting a supermajority of 535 people to agree. And that is how the Executive Branch “drives” the budgetary process.

  9. filistro says:

    A plurality of 37 percent say they would blame congressional Republicans

    Wow. No wonder poor Boehner looks like he’s about to burst into tears every time I see him on TV. What a terrible spot to be in… trapped smack-dab between the Tea Party and grim reality.

  10. Mr. Universe says:

    Well I think my original observation was meant to convey that the President could only be blamed if he vetoed a budget bill. To my knowledge he has yet to do that (on anything). So my query was as to why they just didn’t make the poll Republican vs Democrat. If you’re going to split things out like that shouldn’t House Majority Leader get dinged as well?

  11. filistro says:

    Does everybody remember how last year, DC and I were constantly, to the point of boredom, saying the Tea Party was going to divide and destroy the Republican party?

    Well… this is Scene I of that drama.

  12. Mr. Universe says:

    @fili

    No wonder poor Boehner looks like he’s about to burst into tears every time I see him on TV

    He actually did cry over it earlier.

  13. Mule Rider says:

    “I have absolutely NO, ZERO, NADA, ZIP, ground to stand on. It does NOT exist. My mouth wrote a check that my ass couldn’t cover. So I shall double down on expressing wrong-headed opinion, while standing here dribbling out a few, weak drops of urine”

    “ZERO” gound to stand on? Expressing a “wrong-headed opinion”?

    I know you’re getting senile, old man, but let me invite you to take a closer look to my two initial posts in this thread. In the first, I CORRECTLY point out that the President is the sole member of the Executive Branch of our government. In the second, I reiterate that point by CORRECTLY noting that he is fully one-third of the government, which means he occupies a very critical/important role in any discussion about a government shutdown. I simply said I wasn’t going to get in a pissing match over the semantics regarding his duties as a way to deflect from the original questions which was why the President would have his own category, which I believe I answered succinctly and accurately.

    Now I’ll sit back and wait for you to point out clearly for the rest of us what I said in those posts that could be deemed as me not having a leg to stand on or was me expressing a wrong-headed opinion. Please indulge me.

    And thanks, Michael, for a more articulate/detailed answer!

  14. Brian says:

    Mule, while I agree that the opinions about the President should be polled regarding the government, your argument isn’t quite right. Every member of the cabinet is in the Executive Branch, as is the entire armed services (if I remember civics class right, correct me if I’m wrong). He represents 1/3rd of the process. And being 1/3rd of the government really doesn’t even matter, no one cares what the Judicial Branch thinks, though they are represent 1/3rd of the govt.

    But semantics aside, the opinion of the President should be polled. Any budget will ultimately end up on his desk, and there seems little reason to draft a budget that he’s just going to veto.

  15. WA7th says:

    How the heck could I have gone all these years with my head under a rock, believing that the President’s cabinet memebrs, their entire deparments and the VP all work for the executive branch, when all this time it’s been just one guy? Silly me.

  16. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    Michael,

    Sorry, but while you paint an excellent THEORETICAL and practical picture of the role of the Executive, you have made NO argument on the Constitutional duty of the President in the budgeting process. Your picture would be just as accurate to describe the Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, who, without their approval, could prevent a bill from even making it to the floor.

    Or for that matter ANY individual senator, who under current Senate rules, could put an anonymous hold on a bill to prevent it’s discussion.

    The question was Constitutional citation, not theory and practice.

    In practice, only since 1974, with the enactment of the Congressional Budget Act, did it become statutorily required for the President to submit a budget request. To the best of my knowledge, this Act has never been tested for constitutionality. Even with the Act, the President is only required to request the approximately 1/3 of the total budget that represents discretionary programs.

    Interestingly, the Act was one of the last pieces of major legislation signed by President Nixon, less than a month before his August 1974 resignation.

  17. Max, you’re focusing on the de jure view of the budget. Sure, it’s possible for various members of Congress (especially the Senate) to put a particular bill on hold for various reasons, but the budget has far enough reaching consequences that it would be politically disadvantageous for one to try it.

    I’m referring to the de facto view of the budget. Negotiations typically occur outside of the formalities of the process. This is why the old-school filibusters haven’t happened much, even as de facto filibusters have skyrocketed. The same sort of thing has happened with Presidential vetoes. Yes, occasionally Congress will send something to the President that they know will be vetoed, either to publicly embarrass the President or because they have the votes to override and they know it. That they typically don’t waste their time on the de jure vetoes doesn’t mean that the absence of such vetoes is an indication of a similar lack of de facto vetoes.

    So, fine, if your point is that the President isn’t constitutionally required to be involved in the discussion beyond signing or vetoing, I’ll concede the point. But my concession is packaged with the observation that it’s a technicality that, frankly, misses the more salient point.

  18. filistro says:

    Doesn’t it really look like the wheels are falling off for Republicans? Last November the election was just over and they stood triumphantly astride the nation. Now it’s a scant five months later and they’re being blamed for shutting down the government, they’ve had a stunning, humiliating defeat in WI, other states are threatening recalls of GOP pols, they’ve just amazingly suggested gutting Medicare, Beck has lost his job, nobody wants to carry their banner into the next election, the middle of the party is fiercely at war with its base…

    Right now these people don’t look like they could organize a dog show, let alone win an election. How did it happen so fast?

  19. filistro,
    A similar series of questions could have been asked of the Democrats in 2009.

  20. mclever says:

    @Michael

    Good point! We have to be careful about over-reading the temporary fluctuations in the electorate’s mood… I’m certainly not ready to write any obituaries for the Republican Party yet.

  21. filistro says:

    @Michael.. A similar series of questions could have been asked of the Democrats in 2009.

    I don’t think so. The Dems fell apart, but we didn’t need to ask why… it was the recession and 10% unemployment.

    In this case, I really don’t KNOW what has caused the abrupt and stunning GOP disarray.

    Really,… does anybody have a theory?

  22. dcpetterson says:

    How did it happen so fast?

    I think it has to do with arrogance.

    2010 elections were about the economy. The Republicans floated the meme that they would create jobs. Americans want jobs. They voted Republican.

    But the base of the Republican Party — including its most enthusiastic new candidate faces — are really about a social agenda. Most voters are not political junkies like we are. So they bought the ads about jobs. But that was just a ploy to get elected and to push the agenda.

    Once in office, the newbies felt they had a Divine Mandate to push The Cause. But America does not like The Cause. They wanted jobs. The Republican Party betrayed them.

    One thing the American psyche wants is honesty. (“I cannot tell a lie. I did it with my little hatchet.” A formative myth about our First President.) So dishonesty added to continued ignoring of the economy, added to an offensive far-right social agenda equals a cry of “throw the bums out.”

    Oh, and add impatience. Americans have the attention span of a reality-show junkie. It’s been three months since the new Congress was sworn in. Where are the jobs????

    The newbie Teaper Republicans in Congress were arrogant enough to think they could remold the nation into their image immediately, without negative repercussions, and without any concern for history or for what they actually ran on. The People are not in a forgiving mood.

    That’s my theory.

  23. filistro says:

    DC… I’m not sure. Do you think the public REALLY expected them to be producing thousands of jobs within months? Sure, we all say “Where are the jobs?”… but we’re partisans. I don’t hear it from the general public.

    I think maybe the Republicans truly ARE better at getting elected than governing. I think governing kind of bores them. As I said last year (to lots of noisy disagreement 😉 I think Republicans at heart are buccaneers, while Dems are bookkeepers.

  24. clmbusboy1 says:

    @filistro
    I don’t think the Beck firing speaks much to the state of the Rep party. The news was likely met with, “Oh, he is still on the air?” Basically, I don’t think anyone outside of political junkies even noticed.
    Also, where do you see that the Rs are being primarily blamed for the government shutdown. I’m not doubting you, as that was certainly the case 15 years ago.
    But with Congressional approval on each side so terribly low, I figured both sides would look bad.

  25. filistro says:

    @busboy Also, where do you see that the Rs are being primarily blamed for the government shutdown.

    See the poll numbers at the top of this thread…

  26. clmbusboy1 says:

    @filistro
    I did read the post at the top. Certainly that 37 is the largest number. But if you add up the Obama’s 20+2 and the Congressional Dems 20+2, you get 42 which certainly edges 37.
    I guess this goes to the first reply about the President getting his own category. Sure would have been a lot cleaner if it had just been R vs D.
    Hopefully both sides figure out something soon and the poll doesn’t matter.

  27. filistro says:

    busboy, you’re right and I’m wrong about the poll…. but in my feeble defense, I was partly influenced by the fact that Boehner himself told his caucus today the GOP would be blamed.

    And I’m pretty sure they will.

  28. Monotreme says:

    Which just goes to show, that 20% of Americans would blame Obama for a flat tire.

  29. clmbusboy1 says:

    @filistro
    I don’t think you’re really wrong at all. The poll just is misleading.
    Put out a straight R vs D poll and the result you suspect is reality may indeed be reality.
    I’m not disagreeing with you that the Rs may take more of the blame, but I’m sticking to my belief that both sides take a sizable hit on this one. I think that’s the very reason they are working so hard tonite. Neither side is in a hurry to roll the dice.
    At least not yet. Ryan’s ’12 budget…that could be a totally different story.

  30. DC, watch this:

    I think it has to do with arrogance.

    2008 elections were about the economy. The Democrats floated the meme that they would create jobs. Americans want jobs. They voted Democratic.

    But the base of the Democratic Party — including its most enthusiastic new candidate faces — are really about a social agenda. Most voters are not political junkies like we are. So they bought the ads about jobs. But that was just a ploy to get elected and to push the agenda.

    Once in office, the newbies felt they had a Divine Mandate to push The Cause. But America does not like The Cause. They wanted jobs. The Democratic Party betrayed them.

    Oh, and add impatience. Americans have the attention span of a reality-show junkie. It was nearly two years since the new Congress was sworn in. Where are the jobs????

    The Democrats in Congress were arrogant enough to think they could remold the nation into their image immediately, without negative repercussions, and without any concern for history or for what they actually ran on. The People last fall were not in a forgiving mood.

    The “honesty” part of your post is something I won’t touch on. Each side claims the other is lying, and their base believes them. But the rest pretty much describes how people were feeling last fall about the Democrats.

  31. Armchair Warlord says:

    The idea that the elected government can make jobs appear out of thin air at all is inherently fallacious. There’s a reason the Federal Reserve exists. 😉

  32. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    AW,

    And that would be . . .?

  33. Max aka Birdpilot says:

    AW,

    I ask the question because when I see an elected government:

    issue a contract for a new road, or to repair an existing one, jobs are created;

    recruit a soldier or sailor, jobs are created;

    contract for additional teachers when class sizes are reduced, jobs are created;

    contract for an additional F-18 or another naval ship, jobs are created;

    build and staff a new firehouse, jobs are created;

    add additional people in the passport office because taxpayers complain about wait times, jobs are created;

    and on and on and on.

    Since these jobs did not already exist, therefore THEY WERE CREATED! Not out of thin air, as you falsely assert, but out of the needs and desires of the taxpayer.

    So explain the Fed statement you made, please.

  34. dcpetterson says:

    @Michael Weiss

    In paraphrasing me, you hit the nail on the head. That explains 2010. Those were precisely the memes that the Republicans floated, and a significant portion of teh voters apparently bought those memes.

    Is there any truth in either side of that? It seems hard to say, because partisans (such as myself) on both sides will gladly assert that our view is true and honest, whereas theirs is mere propaganda. And you quite properly underline that with your paraphrase.

    But we see this phenomenon in other areas as well — for example, creationism vs. evolution, or the question of global climate change. There actually is hard data there, though one side likes to confuse the issue, and pretend the truth is unknown, or perhaps relative to the observer. I’m convinced something similar is happening here. Frank Luntz mastered the technique of accusing the opponent of precisely the things Luntz’s candidates were guilty of. This is one of the many tactics used currently by the Republican Party.

    You may disagree, but I feel that there are some objective facts and data which can be brought to bear on the issues I touched upon. I didn’t provide that data, because I expressed simply an opinion on what caused the turnaround that filistro had observed. Others may have different opinions, and are welcome to them. And we can have an exchange on that, and get more deeply into the reasons each of us sees what we see.

    Anyway, thanks for pointing out how easy it is to reverse a statement of opinion by altering nouns. It’s an important thing to remember; it’s harder to do when data is included, for then the person wishing to reverse the charges has to do some research. That’s a good reason for including some of the background with a statement of opinion.

  35. Mule Rider says:

    “Mule, while I agree that the opinions about the President should be polled regarding the government, your argument isn’t quite right. Every member of the cabinet is in the Executive Branch, as is the entire armed services (if I remember civics class right, correct me if I’m wrong).”

    That may be technically true in that they answer to the President, but he is the only one elected to office, and it’s only his approval (or lack thereof) that matters when it comes to transitioning a piece of legislation into law or stopping it in its tracks, so while I can’t dismiss the role of his counsel and those who lead the various departments of the US government, as well as the role of the military, the President is the ultimate and primary authority for that branch of government.

    “He represents 1/3rd of the process. And being 1/3rd of the government really doesn’t even matter, no one cares what the Judicial Branch thinks, though they are represent 1/3rd of the govt.”

    This has always been a unique quirk about the judiciary – especially at that level – in this country. They’ve always seemingly flown “under the radar.” And I think that’s because their role is less about process and implementation but about interpretation, which isn’t as glamorous but, depending on the issue, can be very critical. Maybe not so much on something like the budget, but their opinions are held in much higher regard when it comes to something like the Citizens United ruling or gun laws in DC, and arguably they get far greater press than the other two branches combined.

    Oh, and Max, I’m still waiting for you to describe what “wrong-headed opinions” I shared yesterday or how that put me in a position without a leg to stand on.

    And I’ll just keep waiting and asking until you provide something or apologize…

  36. DC,
    The issue in particular that I’m trying to highlight is that, when asking about the sudden decline, the question isn’t why the party has gotten so much worse, but rather why the public in general (and those who go to the polls in particular) feel that the party has gotten so much worse.

    The answers are not to be found in hard numbers about performance and results.

  37. Mr. Universe says:

    Well, to my original point, If you’re going to have a poll that separates President Obama from the Democratic party then I think it’s only fair that one of the criteria be the Tea Party. I think they are what is causing the Republicans to be so secretly obstinate on compromise.

    They want this shut down. And they want Republicans to attach every single overbearing, religious, self-righteous, if-you-don’t-accept-Jesus-as-your-personal-saviour-you’re-going-to-hell, riders onto this budget as possible.

    I think the poll would have been more useful if they just limited it to three answers
    Republicans
    Democrats
    All of the above

  38. mclever says:

    Mr. Universe,

    Actually, allowing an “All of the Above” answer would give way to many responders a cop-out option. You get more meaningful results if you actually force them to choose. (The same principle with the Likert-type responses that leave out a “neutral” option.)

  39. Mr. Universe says:

    @Mac

    an “All of the Above” answer would give way to many responders a cop-out option

    Maybe, but one of the options was ‘all of the above’ (17%). I think there would have been a sufficient difference of opinion to have provided a more accurate reading though.

    The way the poll was worded caused some (even in this forum) to add President Obama and the Democrats together providing an inaccurate interpretation. I still think it was unfair to give people the option to blame Obama when he really can’t be blamed unless he vetoes. In that regard, I think the results were skewed somewhat.

    An interesting variation I spoke of previously might have yeilded some interesting results:

    Who will be to blame for the government shutdown?
    A. Republicans
    B. Democrats
    C. The Tea Party
    D. President Obama
    E. Both Democrats and Republicans

  40. Monotreme says:

    Mr. U,

    I think you should add the word “Congressional” to options A, B and E and post it as a poll. I already know how I would respond.

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