Earlier in the week, Howard Dean told an audience that Democrats should be rooting for a government shutdown rather than agree to budget cuts, because voter anger would punish Republicans.  That may have been true in 1995, but as Rasmussen discovered it its latest polling, the political and fiscal environment in 2011 is far different.  A strong majority of respondents prefer a shutdown if Congress refuses to cut spending deeply enough:

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 57% of Likely U.S. Voters think making deeper spending cuts in the federal budget for 2011 is more important than avoiding a partial government shutdown. Thirty-one percent (31%) disagree and say avoiding a shutdown is more important. Twelve percent (12%) are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Here is the exact wording of the question: “What is more important: avoiding a partial government shutdown or making deeper cuts in government spending?”  The wording actually assumes that cuts in government spending have already been secured, which means that the response keys off of whether those cuts went far enough.  Only 31% agree with Chuck Schumer (ow whoever writes his flashcards) that seeking further cuts is an “extreme” position.

Nor does the news get any better from there for Democrats.  When asked whether it would be better to avoid a government shutdown by compromising at the level of cuts proposed by Democrats, only 36% agreed.  The same majority of 57% said it would be better to proceed with the partial government shutdown rather than settle for the smaller figure.

The internals won’t comfort Democrats, either.  On the last question, only 69% of their own party supports their cuts, while a little more than a quarter would prefer a shutdown (27%).  Republicans and independents are almost identical in their rejection of Democratic proposals on budget cuts (15/74 and 24/70, respectively).  The shutdown option has a majority in every age demographic, even 18-29YOs at 34/50.  It also wins every income demographic, including the under-$20K group (38/50), and gets more than 2-1 support from those making $40-60K (25/64). None of these are even particularly close, so even if one is inclined to treat Rasmussen a little skeptically, the pattern is still clear.

Dean thinks that holding out for no cuts at all except those already in the CRs will win a class-warfare battle.  If he convinces his party of that strategy, they can kiss the 2012 elections good-bye.