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Majority Of Americans Say Shutdown Is 'Embarrassing For The Country'


So what do Americans make of all this - the government shutdown, the border wall impasse? Well, a new Ipsos/NPR poll finds that nearly three-quarters of respondents think the government shutdown is embarrassing for the country, and they want the government reopened while budget talks continue. Joining us now to discuss the new findings - NPR correspondent Leila Fadel. Hey there, Leila.


CORNISH: So what does this poll find when it comes to how people feel about the shutdown?

FADEL: Well, it's not popular. I mean, the poll found that 7 out of 10 Americans think the shutdown is going to hurt the country, hurt the economy. And it's not just Democrats. It's also a majority of Republicans and independents that feel this way. Also while most of the people surveyed said they aren't directly affected by the shutdown, the majority are frustrated. They think the government's wasteful, that it should give federal workers back pay for this time. And 4 in 10 people think it's never OK to shut down the government.

Now, where you do see the partisan breakdown is who people blame for what could soon be the longest government shutdown. And the big takeaway really is that no one - not Democrats, not the president - is winning real political points here. So 45 percent of the about 1,000 people surveyed across the country think Congress and the Democrats are doing too little to work with the president to end this and about the same number, 48 percent, think the Trump administration is doing too little.

CORNISH: The president gave a speech on Tuesday. He was on the border this week to build support for his plan. I mean, has he convinced people that funding for a wall is urgent?

FADEL: Well, it seems his speech really didn't sway anyone, so his base of support stayed on his side. And the rest - well, only 1 in 10 people said the president's speech brought the country closer to ending the shutdown. Nearly a quarter said the speech had no impact at all. And 39 percent just didn't watch. And one of those people is Alicia Smith of Aurora, Colo. She identifies as an independent and said she just didn't want to hear it.

ALICIA SMITH: He's just making excuses and coming up with more lies, you know, to try to get something that we don't need and that's not going to be effective anyway. It didn't keep the people from crossing from East Berlin to West Berlin, did it? Of course, it did not. It never does work. And it's just a big expense.

FADEL: So she says the shutdown needs to end, that Congress needs to make that happen and that there is no national emergency. She also says she's frustrated with Washington. And as this poll shows, she's in the majority with that opinion. And she says it's been two decades of fighting between the two parties with no solutions for the country.

CORNISH: But there is some support for this wall and for this shutdown. Can you talk about what you learned?

FADEL: Yeah, absolutely. The president has a pretty consistent base of support that ranges from 30 to just over 40 percent depending on what's asked. So nearly 1 in 3 Americans want the government closed until there is funding for this wall. Now, that number is largely driven by Republicans but also 21 percent of independents and 14 percent of Democrats. And that's how Jeremy Hunley feels. He's from Winchester, Va., and he describes himself as a conservative-leaning independent.

JEREMY HUNLEY: It's a bit embarrassing to have our government not do its job, but its job is to protect this country. So we need the wall. This is what Donald Trump ran on in his campaign. And for a lot of people, it's why they elected him.

FADEL: So now, Hunley says he'll support the shutdown until there is funding for a wall even if it's difficult or, as he calls it, inconvenient for federal workers. And while President Trump says he doesn't plan to declare a national emergency to get funding for his border wall just yet, if he does, he has Hunley's support.

CORNISH: That's NPR correspondent Leila Fadel. Thank you.

FADEL: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF SIMON AND GARFUNKEL'S "ANJI") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.
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