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.
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.