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CNN poll: DACA not worth a shutdown, except to Democrats

With hours to go before a midnight deadline for Congress to fund the government or shut it down, most Americans say a...

Posted: Jan 20, 2018 11:41 AM
Updated: Jan 20, 2018 11:41 AM

With hours to go before a midnight deadline for Congress to fund the government or shut it down, most Americans say avoiding a shutdown is more important than passing a bill to maintain the program allowing people brought to the US illegally as children to stay, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS.

But Democrats taking a hard line on legislation connecting government funding to the popular program known as DACA appear to have the backing of their constituents, and more overall say President Donald Trump or the Republicans in Congress would be responsible for a shutdown if one happens.

DACA popular across party lines: 96% of Democrats, 72% of Republicans back it

Trump approval rating up 5 points to 40%, Congress approval at 18%

6 in 10 lack confidence Trump and Congress will improve immigration laws

Related: Full Poll Results

Overall, about half of Americans say they would blame either Trump (21%) or his Republican counterparts in Congress (26%) should Congress fail to fund the government by the midnight Friday deadline. About a third, 31%, say they would hold the Democrats in Congress responsible, and another 10% say they'd blame all three groups. Among Republicans, 62% would blame the Democrats in Congress, while 43% of Democrats would blame Republicans on Capitol Hill and 29% would blame Trump.

Still, 56% overall say approving a budget agreement to avoid a shutdown is more important than continuing the DACA program, while just 34% choose DACA over a shutdown. Democrats break narrowly in favor of DACA -- 49% say it's more important vs. 42% who say avoiding a shutdown is the priority -- while majorities of both Republicans (75%) and independents (57%) say avoiding a shutdown is more important.

Republicans in Congress have argued that Democrats in the Senate are holding up the process by insisting on tying an extension of the DACA program to the legislation needed to fund the government's operations. Republicans in the House have already passed a bill to fund the government, which includes funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program -- another popular program whose future is in doubt -- but not an extension of DACA. Republicans hold 51 seats in the Senate, however, fewer than the 60 required for the procedural vote needed to bring that funding bill up for passage.

A competing bipartisan bill offered by Democratic and Republican Senators that does include an extension of DACA also currently falls short of the 60 votes needed for cloture, and has been rejected by the President.

On its own, the DACA program remains broadly popular, with 84% saying they would like to see it continue, including 72% of Republicans, 82% of independents and a near-unanimous 96% of Democrats. Almost two-thirds (63%) say dealing with the program should be an extremely or very high priority for Congress, narrowly ahead of the 61% who say the same about passing a long-term funding bill to avoid future shutdowns.

Both DACA and funding the government, however, fall well below CHIP on the priority scale. Eighty percent overall call the Children's Health Insurance Program an extremely or very important priority for Congress, including 91% of Democrats and 70% of Republicans.

Neither the President nor Congress are particularly popular, according to the poll, with Trump's approval rating at a net-negative 40% approve to 55% disapprove, and Congress meriting just 18% approval, with 76% disapproving. That's the worst rating in CNN polling on the legislative branch since before the start of this Congress last January.

Trump's numbers have improved in the last month, however, with approval rising 5 points largely on the strength of improved ratings among independents and conservatives. He's improved 7 points among independents, with much of that shift coming among those who lean Republican, and gained 10 points among ideological conservatives.

But Trump's overall approval rating of 40% is the worst for any elected president in the modern era of polling at the one-year mark of their time in office. Ronald Reagan's 47% approval rating in January of 1982 is the closest, with the nine presidents for whom data are available averaging a 64% approval rating at this point in their time in office.

Trump's favored policies on immigration do not fare well in the poll. Six in 10 lack confidence that the President and Congress will be able to improve immigration laws generally, 62% say they oppose his plan to build a wall along the entire border with Mexico, and just 36% agree with the White House's contention that reducing legal immigration from troubled countries makes the United States safer.

On the whole, just 38% approve of the way Trump is handling immigration while 57% disapprove, a figure that's largely unchanged compared with our last read on the topic in November.

The CNN Poll was conducted by SSRS January 14-18 among a random national sample of 1,005 adults reached on landlines or cellphones by a live interviewer. No interviewing was completed on January 16 due to weather conditions at call center locations. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points, it is larger for subgroups.

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