Shutdown angst: Americans say this government shutdown worse than 1995

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The shutdown is getting to us: 70 percent of Americans view the ongoing shutdown of the federal government as a crisis or a major problem, even higher than the 56 percent who said the same thing the same at the height of the last shutdown in December, 1995.

So reports Art Swift, an analyst at Gallup, where pollsters tracked the sentiment then, as they do now.

“Leaders looking to gain ground in public opinion are not succeeding. A majority of Americans report feeling more negatively about the Republican and Democratic congressional leadership since the shutdown began, as well as about President Barack Obama,” Mr. Swift says.

“The negative reactions toward Obama are higher than Gallup recorded toward President Bill Clinton during the 1995 shutdown, while they are about the same toward the Republican leaders in Congress.”

Over informed, emotionally involved Americans are certainly exposed to more news now than they were 18 years ago. But they’re also dealing with additional complications on Capitol Hill.

“For both shutdowns, Americans view the situation rather seriously and think of their leaders more negatively as a result. But today, the proportion who see the shutdown as a crisis or major problem is already quite high. In a year already marked by battles over the fiscal cliff and the sequester, developments that did not exist in 1995-96,

Americans may be more tuned in to congressional turmoil and are reacting accordingly,” Mr. Swift says.

And some more numbers:

61 percent of Americans “feel more negative” about Republican leaders in Congress following the government shutdown; 62 percent felt that way during the 1995 shutdown.

57 percent feel more negative about President Obama following the shutdown; 49 percent felt that way about President Clinton in December, 1995.

49 percent say the government shutdown is a “major problem”; 44 percent felt that way in the 1995 shutdown.

21 percent say the shutdown is a “crisis”; 12 percent felt that way in 1995.

18 percent say the shutdown is a “minor problem”; 30 percent felt that way in 1995.

8 percent say the shutdown is “not a problem”; 13 percent felt that way in 1995.

Source: A Gallup poll of 1,021 U.S. adults conducted Oct. 2-3.

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