GOP Getting Most Of The Blame For Government Shutdown

The first poll taken after the shutdown began has little good news for the Republican Party.

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The stalwarts in the Republican Party continue to believe that they will ultimately win the shutdown debate because the public will be on their side. So far, though, the evidence is indicating otherwise, not that this should come as a surprise. Polling that took place immediately before the shutdown indicated that the GOP would be taking a real political risk if it pushed the government into a shutdown, even among voters that opposed the Affordable Care Act. Other polling backed that up, as did a poll that was released just shortly after the shutdown began.  Now, the first poll taken immediately after the shutdown began seems to be backing that up:

On day three of the partial government shutdown, a new CBS News poll reveals that a large majority of Americans disapprove of the shutdown and more are blaming Republicans than President Obama and the Democrats for it.

Fully 72 percent of Americans disapprove ofshutting down the federal government over differences on the Affordable Care Act; just 25 percent approve of this action. Republicans are divided: 48 percent approve, while 49 percent disapprove. Most tea party supporters approve of the government shutdown – 57 percent of them do. Disapproval of the shutdown is high among Democrats and independents. This CBS News poll was conducted after the partial government shutdown began on October 1.

Views of the Affordable Care Act are related to views of the shutdown. Those who like the health care law also overwhelmingly disapprove of shutting down the government. There is more support for the shutdown among Americans who don’t like the 2010 health care law. Thirty-eight percent of them approve of the shutdown but even more, 59 percent, disapprove.

Republicans in Congress receive more of the blame for the shutdown: 44 percent of Americans blame them, while 35 percent put more blame on President Obama and the Democrats in Congress. These views are virtually the same as they were last week before the shutdown, when Americans were asked who they would blame if a shutdown occurred.

(…)

Most Americans want compromise. Majorities think the President and the Democrats in Congress (76 percent) and the Republicans in Congress (78 percent) should compromise in order to come to an agreement on the budget.

But there are some party stalwarts who don’t think compromise is the way to go. Thirty-eight percent of Republicans say members of their party in Congress should stick to their positions even if it means not coming to an agreement, while 36 percent of Democrats say that about their party.

This is, of course, largely consistent with the pre-shutdown polling, which isn’t entirely surprising given that not much has happened in the last 72 to 96 hours that would seem likely to move public opinion very much. The efforts by Republicans in the House to deal with the more public impacts of the shutdown via stop gap funding bills for things like the National Park Service, the Smithsonian, the District of Columbia Government, and certain aspects of the activities of the National Institutes of Health don’t seem to be resonating with the public, for example. To be fair, those moves largely took place yesterday so it may be that they aren’t being reflected in public opinion just yet. Given the fact that public opinion has been relatively consistent on this issue, and indeed has been consistent across similar government “crises” that we’ve seen over the past several years, though, it seems that this would be rather unlikely.

The only thing that could possibly move the needle for Republicans is the fact that the public overwhelmingly wants the parties in Washington to compromise. This sentiment is universal across all political parties, as 76% say Obama and the Democrats should compromise while 78% say that Republicans in the House should compromise. Meanwhile, 61% of Democrats say that their side needs to compromise, while 59% of Republicans say their side needs to compromise. Right now, I’d suggest that much of the negative polling that the GOP is getting is likely due to their pre-shutdown position that they would not pass a CR unless it included some kind of attack on Obamacare. Now that we’ve moved into the shutdown part of this game and that portion of the GOP’s strategy has failed, the political dynamic could change. If we get into a situation as this shutdown continues where the public starts to perceive the Democrats as being the ones who are refusing to compromise and negotiate, then the narrow advantage that they hold in polling over who’s to blame for the crisis could start to shift. In other words, the “Clean CR or nothing” and “I won’t negotiate” positions that the President and Harry Reid are taking could end up hurting them in the polls if the public starts to perceive them as being the ones unwilling to compromise. It’s far too early to know if that’s going to happen, although I have to say that the manner in which the GOP is playing the public relations angle of this story so far make it seem as though that this would be unlikely. However, it’s impossible to know for sure how this will unfold in that regard.

The bigger problem, of course, is the one that Steven Taylor points out this morning. For a large part of the House GOP Caucus, these national polls are far less important than the fact that what they really have to worry about is a challenge from the right and the Tea Party if they dare stray from the hard line reflected in the poll numbers for Republicans and opponents of the Affordable Care Act. Even if the national numbers continue to go badly for the GOP, it’s likely going to be difficult to convince Congressmen like these to change the hard line position that they’ve been taking ever since this mess started. Perhaps it will take some people on the right that they respect, whether in or out of Congress, to come in and have “the talk” with them and tell them they need act in the best interests of the country and their party. Otherwise, the longer that this goes on, the worse it’s likely to get for Republicans.

Update: Some further analysis of the latest poll from Tom Dougherty:

The more important number is 76% of the public think President Obama and Democrats should negotiate and compromise with regard to the debt-ceiling increase, and that is of notable value to the Speaker and Republicans. 78% also think Republicans need to compromise so there is a large majority of Americans who will not take well to either side that refuses to negotiate.

In that the number one issue with voters continues to be the economy and jobs, the Speaker has an opportunity to push a stronger agenda than many may think in negotiating a debt-ceiling increase.

Will it be a massive overhaul of domestic economic policies? Of course not but it could include real spending cuts, tax reform initiatives, entitlement program reform, and repeal of the medical devices tax provision of the ACA among other GOP economic and jobs policies.

Working with the assistance of experienced lawmakers like Majority Leader Cantor, Majority Whip McCarthy, Conference Chair McMorris Rodgers, Ways and Means Chair Camp, Budget Chair Ryan, and an experienced staff, John Boehner has much of what he needs to move a responsible economic agenda forward.

As the author goes on to note, though, it’s going to be exceedingly difficult for Boehner to achieve much of anything if his own caucus continues to try to undermine him.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Deficit and Debt, Health Care, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. al-Ameda says:

    Fully 72 percent of Americans disapprove of shutting down the federal government over differences on the Affordable Care Act

    Well, that’s exactly what Republicans did.

    Most Americans want compromise. Majorities think the President and the Democrats in Congress (76 percent) and the Republicans in Congress (78 percent) should compromise in order to come to an agreement on the budget.

    Nothing could be further from the truth. For Democrats compromise means letting all members vote on a clean CR. For Republicans compromise means we continue the shutdown over the ongoing existence of ACA unless Democrats capitulate and defund implementation of ACA. Okay, which party has the reasonable compromise position?

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    I think that this is the meat of the quote you’ve cited:

    Republicans in Congress receive more of the blame for the shutdown: 44 percent of Americans blame them, while 35 percent put more blame on President Obama and the Democrats in Congress. These views are virtually the same as they were last week before the shutdown, when Americans were asked who they would blame if a shutdown occurred.

    If Republicans were betting that the polls were wrong, they’ve miscalculated. If they don’t care about the polls, they’re getting what they asked for.

  3. Mikey says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    If Republicans were betting that the polls were wrong, they’ve miscalculated.

    Where’s that “unskewed polls” guy when they need him?

  4. DC Loser says:

    The nutjob wing of the House GOP doesn’t care about these polls since their seats are safe from such polling results. It’s the Republican governors, senators and national candidates whose brand is irreversibly damaged beyond repair by these antics. The nutjobs don’t care if there will never be another Repubiican president. Their own jobs and future are safe.

  5. PD Shaw says:

    these national polls are far less important than the fact that what they really have to worry about is a challenge from the right and the Tea Party if they dare stray from the hard line reflected in the poll numbers for Republicans and opponents of the Affordable Care Act.

    I agree that national polls are not useful here. We don’t have a national campaign for a few years, and the most likely place where a party could be punished is in next year’s Senate races. Assuming that blame corresponds with a state’s vote in the 2012 Presidential race, Sean Trende has deduced that a majority of those in West Virginia, Arkansas, Kentucky, South Dakota, Louisiana, Alaska, and Montana blame Obama. That will probably change, but it would nice if the polling companies analyzed opinions and developments among competitive Senate states.

  6. legion says:

    The problem with the polls is that they showed a large number of people “dissatisfied” with Obamacare. The GOP assumed that meant they’d have broad support for fighting by any means necessary, but if they’d bothered to take any closer look at those polls, they’d have seen that while the Republican voters were against it because they thought it was a terrible idea, the Democrats were dissatisfied because they thought it didn’t go far enough. The support they thought they had isn’t there. And they’re too stupid/stubborn to back out now. They’ve really created their own disaster with this.

  7. Lone Star Stacy says:

    @al-Ameda: Republicans moved from the position you mentioned. Now asking for three things: Federal government employees move from their taxpayer-supported cadillac health care and subsidies onto Obamacare as is being required of the rest of the country who must depend on the American taxpayer, a one-year delay in the individual mandate ( which would not prevent people from going to the exchanges or in getting subsidies but could protect them due to all the glitches and other problems), and a repeal of the medical device tax which had bipartisan support earlier. They have moved. The Democrats in the Senate have not.

  8. grumpy realist says:

    @Lone Star Stacy: They might get the medical device tax, but only if they find somewhere else for the funds that will be otherwise lost.

    For a party that supposedly thinks Teh Deficit is the Worst Thing on Earth, you’re certainly running away from any steps to diminish it.

    We’ve already got three months ahead of us to work out the bugs on the exchanges. How about we split the difference–we’ll delay the deadline by six months. And in return, your side stops trying to sabotage the implementation of Obamacare.

    I’ll be willing to split the baby on the “government Cadillac health care plans” as well. Let the lower-paid peons keep it–the interns who are making $24K a year and trying to live in one of the US’s most expensive cities. All Congresscritters should however have to go to the exchanges. Or, better yet, any politician calling for the demise of Obamacare should be forced to go onto the Free Market. No government health care plan for you–no, not even Medicare. You rough-and-tough types can go completely on your own, getting your very own plans from Teh Free Market.

    Deal?

  9. PD Shaw says:

    I’m also skeptical that there is time for challengers to appear for next year’s primaries. At least in Illinois, the signatures and paperwork needs to be in place by around Thanksgiving, i.e. challengers needed to start working over a month ago. The Club for Growth has been threatening to support primary challenges from the right for awhile now and only has one credible challenger, in Idaho. Not really a game-changer.

  10. wr says:

    @Lone Star Stacy: No.

    Just no.

    It’s the job and the duty of members of the House to fund the government. They don’t get a cookie for doing their job.

    Pass the CR. Pass the debt ceiling extension. And after they’ve fulfilled the minimum obligations of their jobs, they can sit down and negotiate over other issues.

  11. David M says:

    @Lone Star Stacy:

    Why are those things 1) worth shutting down the government for and 2) not more appropriate for the entire FY2014 negotiations than the 6 week continuing resolution. Even if you think those are the priorities the GOP should be pursuing, the shutdown is still not justified.

  12. al-Ameda says:

    @Lone Star Stacy:

    Federal government employees move from their taxpayer-supported cadillac health care and subsidies onto Obamacare as is being required of the rest of the country who must depend on the American taxpayer, a one-year delay in the individual mandate ( which would not prevent people from going to the exchanges or in getting subsidies but could protect them due to all the glitches and other problems),

    When employers move to drop or otherwise eliminate health insurance coverage, employees – under ACA – will have the option of purchasing their insurance in the Health Exchanges, or to shop directly with insurance companies. Clearly that is not the case with federal employees now, so it does not apply in this case.

    Are you arguing that the federal government should not provide employer-paid health insurance? Why? Do you want the same for all people? That is not what ACA calls for. The Exchanges are intended to provide coverage when employers decline to offer such coverage.

  13. legion says:

    @Lone Star Stacy:

    They have moved. The Democrats in the Senate have not.

    Madam, you are full of lie.
    The one-year delay for businesses? That was a Democratic compromise. It gained them nothing.
    The sequester? That was a Democratic compromise. It gained them nothing.
    The debt ceiling clusterf*ck from last year? That was a Democratic compromise. It gained them nothing.

    There is absolutely no deal whatsoever that a) Boehner has the authority to back up or that b) the GOP hard-corps will actually abide by. They have all proven this many times before. They have neither honor nor decency, and are worthy of neither trust nor respect. You and the entire GOP can pound sand.

  14. Woody says:

    @grumpy realist:

    The GOP does not care one iota about the substance of deficit. If they did, they would be embracing the ACA (cost controls and lowers the deficit), and screaming instead about Medicare Part D (where economies of scale-savings are expressly prohibited and which raises the deficit considerably).

    The GOP does care about the deficit as an optic – mostly as a scriptural refrain on Fox chyrons and talking heads.

  15. Argon says:

    Um, delaying the individual mandate is fiscally irresponsible. Without everyone in the pools – that is both the low and high risk individuals – you end up with program that is too heavy with high risk people. So either the costs of the plans skyrocket, defeating the ‘affordable’ purpose of the plan, or you subsidize it more heavily and put more of the burden on taxpayers.

    You want compromise? OK. Democrats should push for greater closure of loopholes, more spending on infrastructure and putting more teeth into the Consumer Protection office. Hell, we’re operating under sequester conditions which is below the Ryan plan levels. Why shouldn’t the GOP be forced to really compromise and give up far more than they’ve won in previous negotiations?

  16. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Argon:

    . So either the costs of the plans skyrocket, defeating the ‘affordable’ purpose of the plan, or you subsidize it more heavily and put more of the burden on taxpayers.

    Which Republicans know, and are planning on. They want the economy and uninsured to be proper-f*cked, so that then “Obamacare” can be blamed.

    You know, the Iraq War was a pretty massive clusterf*ck, but you didn’t have Democratic Representatives trying to delay shipments of munitions, or slashing the tires on humvees in a hope that Republicans would look bad. Yet for the current Republican party, this seems to be an accepted tactic.

  17. labman57 says:

    Tea-chugging Republicans had been planning for this shutdown opportunity ever since Obama was reelected, giddily anticipating bringing the federal government to a complete halt.

    Moral of the story — be careful what you wish for.

  18. Rick DeMent says:

    The ACA itself was one big hoary compromise.

  19. Ken says:

    @Lone Star Stacy: Republicans moved from the position you mentioned. Now asking for three things… They have moved. The Democrats in the Senate have not.

    Republicans: Can we burn your house down?

    Democrats: No

    Republicans: How about just the second floor?

    Democrats: No

    Republicans: The garage?

    Democrats: No

    Lone Star Stacy: The Republicans have moved in their position, the Democrats have not. Oh why are they so unwilling to compromise??!!

  20. Rob in CT says:

    Where’s that “unskewed polls” guy when they need him?

    Dean Chambers is currently busy explaining that Obama is gay (seriously).

    As for compromise, look, John Cole nailed this (February 5, 2009):

    I really don’t understand how bipartisanship is ever going to work when one of the parties is insane. Imagine trying to negotiate an agreement on dinner plans with your date, and you suggest Italian and she states her preference would be a meal of tire rims and anthrax. If you can figure out a way to split the difference there and find a meal you will both enjoy, you can probably figure out how bipartisanship is going to work the next few years.

  21. Rob in CT says:

    Holy crap, the final comment in that thread:

    Dave Ullman says:

    February 9, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    Too many of you are thinking the Republicans are insane. I doubt very much that this is the case.

    Regardless of how they try to spin it, they know that the eight years of the Bush Admin really sucked for most Americans. As a consequence they’ve suffered in the last two elections and are probably looking forward to more losses in the midterms if things don’t turn around for them.

    They’ll do their best to put a happy face on the Bush disaster, but they know that if Obama and the Dems start looking good, they are looking at total disaster. And between serving the public interest, and keeping/gaining political power, well, for the Repubs, that is really no choice at all.

    So if the Republicans are to have any chance at all in future elections, they have got to make the Dems look at least as bad as Bush. And if it plunges the country into the hell of a depression, well, too bad, but if it gives the Repubs a shot at power, they’re willing to do it. Or put somewhat poetically: Better to rule in hell than serve in Heaven. (That line is from John Milton’s Paradise Lost.)

    If my analysis is correct, it is absolutely inconceivable the Republicans could possibly negotiate in good faith. They are there purely as spoilers posing as “loyal opposition.”

  22. Rob in CT says:

    So, crazy or crazy like a fox? I think it’s a mixture. I think McConnell, Boehner and other “moderates” or “establishment Republicans” are following the playbook Mr. Ullman laid out. Rational, but Party > Country.

    There are also some, likely elected in 2010, who are the girlfriend demanding tire rims and anthrax.

  23. Mikey says:

    @Rob in CT:

    Dean Chambers is currently busy explaining that Obama is gay (seriously).

    Wow, he really is. And his primary source is Larry Sinclair, whose long history of criminal deceit is detailed here.

    He also draws on WorldNutDaily writer, birther, and 9/11 truther, Jerome Corsi.

  24. Rob in CT says:

    What’s a grifter who believes the grift?

  25. Mikey says:

    @Rob in CT:

    What’s a grifter who believes the grift?

    Glenn Beck.

  26. anjin-san says:

    It’s ironic that conservatives have become the agents of Ayn Rand’s worst fears:

    “You’d better get it straight that it’s not a bunch of boy scouts you’re up against – then you’ll know that this is not the age for beautiful gestures. We’re after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you’d better get wise to it.”

  27. Mikey says:

    @anjin-san: What’s ironic is conservatives espousing the values of the pro-abortion, atheist, minarchist Rand, whose philosophy conservative luminary William F. Buckley Jr. termed “preposterous.”

    Equally ironic is some conservatives’ ignorance of the movement’s own history, given the importance of it to conservatism…