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Poll: Republicans to blame for shutdown

Date: 10/11/2013

By G. Michael Dobbs

SPRINGFIELD – If the government shutdown continues and people see the Republican Party largely responsible, Massachusetts Republicans seeking public office might have a harder time doing so, Western New England University Polling Institute Director Tim Vercellotti believes.

Vercelllotti released a poll on Oct. 9 that was conducted from Oct. through Oct. 8 that showed “56 percent of adults in Massachusetts say that Republicans in Congress bear the greatest responsibility for the partial shutdown of the federal government.”

The telephone poll consisted of the responses of 468 adults.

Vercelllotti that while he anticipated that a majority of Massachusetts residents would hold Republicans in Congress responsible, he was surprised how many voters who identified themselves as independent blamed the Republicans.

“I see the independents taking a highly critical view that suggests the Republican brand in Massachusetts see some effect,” Vercelllotti told Reminder Publications.

He believes that Bay State Republicans might have to distance themselves from the national party in order to become elected. Vercelllotti said that he has seen people suggesting the Charlie Baker, planning to run for governor again, draw a distinction between his policies and those of Republicans in Congress.

Vercelllotti said, “Polls are snapshots of things sometime in motion.”

He added that if the government shutdown continues voters could develop a” general sense of frustration” at all of the officials involved.

What could also affect public opinion are additional news stories about the impact of the shutdown. Vercelllotti referenced a story that was reported Oct. 9 that the families of military personnel killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan cannot receive the $100,000 death gratuity to cover funeral expenses and to help their survivors because of the shutdown.

The new polled showed that 80 percent of the participants disapprove of the job Republicans are doing in Congress, while they are “ more evenly divided over the job that Democrats are doing in Congress, with 43 percent of adults approving and 49 percent of adults disapproving.”

The adults in the survey also gave President Barack Obama a job approval rating of 58 percent with 34 percent disapproving, marking a change from 54 percent approval and 38 percent disapproval from a June polling. The results reflected a slight change from the Polling Institute’s previous measure.

The president’s heath insurance legislation was also a subject of the poll. Sixty-two percent said they support the legislation, while 31 percent said they oppose the law and seven percent said they did not know or declined to answer.

Vercellotti acknowledged the use of the terms “Affordable Care Act” and “Obamacare” carry certain weight.

“National polling data has shown slight differences in attitudes when using the terms ‘Affordable Care Act’ as opposed to ‘Obamacare.’ We used both terms to ensure respondents knew what we were asking about, and we assumed any wording effects would cancel each other out with the use of both terms,” Vercellotti said.

Vercelllotti said he plans to take another poll in November and believes revisiting questions about the government shutdown mare worth revisiting.