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US President Donald Trump and Republicans are losing the blame game over the shutdown. AAP/EPA/Jim Lo Scalzo

Record US government shutdown harms Trump’s ratings, plus Brexit chaos and Australian Essential poll

The current US government shutdown began on December 22, and is still going. At 32 days, it is the longest shutdown in US history, beating the previous record of 21 days in a 1995-96 shutdown.

The shutdown was caused by Trump’s demand that $US5.7 billion funding for a southern border wall be included in the budget. When Democrats took control of the US House on January 3, following the November midterm elections, they passed a budget that omitted funding for the border wall; this bill had been passed by the Republican-controlled Senate before the shutdown began. As Trump opposes the budget, the Senate has not taken up the House bill.

Read more: Poll wrap: Labor widens lead in Ipsos; US Democrats gained 40 House seats at midterms

In the FiveThirtyEight poll tracker, Trump’s ratings on December 17, before the shutdown began, were 42.2% approve, 52.4% disapprove, for a net approval of -10.2. Trump’s ratings are currently 40.2% approve, 55.0% disapprove, for a net approval of -14.8. Trump’s approval is his lowest since September 2018, and his disapproval is its highest since February 2018.

CNN analyst Harry Enten says Trump and Republicans are losing the blame game over the shutdown. Polls have Trump and congressional Republicans blamed more for the shutdown than congressional Democrats by at least 20 points.

If Trump were to declare a national emergency to secure wall funding, the public would be opposed by 66-31 according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll. Such a declaration would also be challenged in the courts.

Support for the border wall itself increased in the last year, but is still opposed by an average 15-point margin. In a Quinnipiac national poll conducted January 9-13, voters overall opposed the wall 55-43, but Republicans supported it 88-10. Trump’s difficulty is that, while voters overall blame him for the shutdown, he would come under attack from his right-wing base if he was seen as caving on the wall.

On January 19, Trump proposed to temporarily extend two programs that protect some unauthorised immigrants from deportation in exchange for wall funding, but Democrats immediately rejected this deal, and the shutdown continued. Furthermore, Trump angered right-wing commentator Ann Coulter.

The limited polls since Trump’s proposal suggest no change in his ratings. An Emerson national poll, conducted January 20-21, had voters opposed to Trump’s proposal by 55-45.

The Senate will vote on Trump’s proposal and a bill to reopen the government until February 8 without wall funding on Thursday (Friday Melbourne time). Neither bill is expected to win the 60 votes (out of 100) required to advance under Senate rules. Trump could veto legislation that passed both chambers of Congress, and it takes a two-thirds majority in both chambers to override a presidential veto.

Analyst Nate Silver says previous shutdowns have had little long-term impact. Republicans were blamed for the October 2013 shutdown, but they performed very well at the November 2014 midterm elections. However, the longer the shutdown lasts, the greater the economic impact. Trump will need the US economy to be strong in 2020 to have a reasonable chance of re-election.

UK Brexit chaos could result in a “no-deal” Brexit

On January 15, the House of Commons rejected UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal by a 432-202 vote; the 230-vote margin is the biggest loss for a government since universal suffrage began. 118 Conservatives rebelled against their party’s position in this vote.

If the Commons cannot agree to something by March 29, the UK will crash out of the European Union without a deal, likely greatly damaging the economy. You can read about why this scenario has become more likely on my personal website.

Australian Essential poll: 53-47 to Labor

In last week’s Australian Essential poll, conducted January 9-13 from a sample of 1,089, Labor led by 53-47, unchanged since mid-December. Primary votes were 38% Coalition (up one), 38% Labor (up two), 10% Greens (down one) and 7% One Nation (steady). Essential has been better for the Coalition since Scott Morrison became PM than Newspoll. This is the first poll of 2019.

Morrison’s net approval was +4, down four points since December. Bill Shorten’s net approval was -12, also down four points. Morrison led Shorten by 42-30 as better PM (40-29 in December).

Far more people thought all types of crime had increased than decreased. By 63-24, voters supported pill testing, though the question had more detail than most voters would be familiar with.

56% thought immigration in the past ten years has been too high, 26% about right and 12% too low. By 67-27, voters agreed with a positive statement about multiculturalism, but they agreed with a negative statement 53-40. By 66-22, voters thought it inappropriate for Fraser Anning to use taxpayer money to attend the far-right rally in Melbourne.

65% said either their home or workplace was connected to the NBN. 51% of those with NBN connections thought it better than their previous service, 30% about the same and 17% worse. By 44-29, voters would disapprove of privatising the NBN when completed in 2020.

Tasmanian federal and state polls

Tasmanian pollster EMRS conducted federal and state polls December 15-17 from a sample of 1,000. In the federal poll, Labor had 40% (37.9% at the 2016 election), the Liberals 33% (35.4%) and the Greens 11% (10.2%). No two party estimate was given, but the primary figures imply a swing of over 2% to Labor in Tasmania, for about a 60-40 split.

In the state poll, the Liberals had 39% (up three since August), Labor 35% (up one) and the Greens 14% (down two). EMRS state polls skew towards the Greens. Labor leader Rebecca White led incumbent Will Hodgman 46-40 as better Premier (46-38 in August).

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