On Debt Ceiling, GOP Lawmakers Get Different Message From Base Than From General Public

If you want to understand why Republicans in Congress are acting like they are, just look at the polls.

Debt Ceiling

A new CNN/ORC poll shows the public seems to be lining up behind President Obama on the question of raising the debt ceiling, especially when compared to the idea of making inroads against the Affordable Care Act. At the same time, though, the poll shows that the poll signals that Republicans are getting from their own base are radically different from the country as a whole, and likely to ensure that they are unlikely to budge from their current position anytime soon:

As the likelihood grows that the fight over the government shutdown will merge with a fight to raise the debt ceiling, a new poll shows Americans are against defaulting on the nation’s debt over Obamacare.

Asked what is more important for Congress to do, 51 percent said it was more important for Congress to raise the debt ceiling, compared with 43 percent that said it was more important to delay Obamacare, in a CNN/ORC International poll out Wednesday.

Americans believe it would be a “bad thing” to default on the debt, 56 percent to 38 percent.

Republicans would also get the blame if the debt ceiling was not raised, the poll found. Fifty-three percent of those surveyed said they would blame Republicans, while 31 percent said they would blame President Barack Obama. Ten percent said they would blame both.

Therefore, this poll would seem to suggest some good news for the President in that the public seems to be siding with him in the ongoing standoff with the Republicans. However, that doesn’t mean we’re likely to see the GOP folding any time soon. Read deeper into the poll and you’ll find that, while a majority of Americans (56%) believe it would be a bad thing if the debt ceiling were not raised, the numbers are almost completely reversed for Republicans, a majority of whom (52%) believe it would be a bad thing if debt ceiling were raised. Furthermore, while a majority of Americans (53%) would blame Republicans in Congress if the debt ceiling were not raised, a majority of Republicans (57%) would blame the President. Finally, while 51% of Americans think its more important to raise the debt ceiling than to delay the effective date of the Affordable Care Act, an even bigger majority of Republicans (61%) believe the exact opposite.

The longer this government shutdown goes on, and the closer we get to the drop dead date for the debt ceiling, the more important public opinion is likely to be in determining how this situation plays itself out. At the moment, both sides believe that the public will end up on their side in the dispute. Democrats, no doubt, rely upon the slew of polls prior to the shutdown that tended to show that the GOP would receive more of the blame for a shutdown than the President or Congressional Democrats. Republicans, on the other hand, continue to cite the polls that show, as they have for most of the time it has been law, the relatively negative public perception of the Affordable Care Act. If polling starts to show the public moving heavily in one direction or another, the conventional wisdom goes, then the party on the losing end of the public relations game can be expected to be the one that ends up conceding to bring a quick end to a crisis that is causing damage to their overall public image.  As with the debt ceiling, though, Republicans are getting very different messages from their base than the national polls are telling us. Given the fact that many Republican Members of Congress are in districts where they face a greater risk of a challenge from the right than they do from a challenge from the right or the center, many House Republicans have an incentive to stand their ground. As long as they continue to believe that, it seems like we’re headed for more confrontation and gridlock.

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. David M says:

    Seems to me the two options are federally enforced non-partisan redistricting and voting laws or a parliamentary system. The GOP has decided our government isn’t worth keeping and has broken it.

  2. Tony W says:

    Shutting down the government is the ultimate “small government” strategy. I agree with David M that, to the base, this is more of a feature than a bug.

  3. Ernieyeball says:

    @David M:…federally enforced non-partisan redistricting…

    Which branch of our apoltical Federal Government will you trust to do that?

  4. grumpy realist says:

    Also because Boehner has the balls of a dead mouse when it comes to standing up to the extremists.

    Question: are the critters on the right conscious of the probable afteraffects of a default, or are they simply interested in bringing the whole system down in hopes that a new, purer, smaller government will arise?

  5. Ernieyeball says:

    @grumpy realist:…balls of a dead mouse…

    LOL! Why do you give Boehner that much credit?

  6. Ron Beasley says:

    a majority of whom (52%) believe it would be a bad thing if debt ceiling were raised

    What this proves that a majority of Americans are simply too stupid for Democracy to work.

  7. ElizaJane says:

    52% of Republicans believe it would be a bad thing if the debt ceiling were raised. I assume that they do not understand what raising the debt ceiling actually means — I mean, it is a complex economic thing, and it took me at least three minutes to explain it to my 14-year-old daughter this morning. Fox News has been unable to inform them in a coherent way.

    Seriously, though — since this would be a fiasco impacting the top 2% and the whole business community in a major way, why have they been allowing their elected Republican minions to get away with this garbage?

  8. Dave Schuler says:

    Something else pointed out by Sean Trende at RealClearPolitics is that the House Republicans’ strategy polls differently in states that have Democratic Senate seats that are threatened in the next election than it does where there are safe Democratic seats. Strictly politically, the House Republicans might be gambling that they can sacrifice a few House seats but still retain control and gain control of the Senate.

    I’ve written repeatedly that I don’t like or support the House Republicans’ stance and think they have other alternatives. But, clearly, they’re not completely insane, either. Just different ideas of risk and reward.

  9. john personna says:

    Well The Road was a favorite movie on the far right.

  10. Ben says:

    @Ernieyeball:

    You can have computers do the redistricting for you, based on nothing other than math. There are established algorithms to do this.

  11. john personna says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    Well the overall majority does look right to me on this one. That isn’t always the case though. Sometimes democracy is a long game.

  12. grumpy realist says:

    @ElizaJane: Because their supposedly tame politicians aren’t listening to them any more.

    I wonder if the Koch brothers are intelligent enough to realize that if the US goes down, it’s going to bring everything down–so much for hedging via globalization!

    (Someone should do a cartoon of a boat with ordinary people getting washed out into sea at one end of the boat through a gigantic hole, a bunch of businessmen in sunglasses and trunks sunbathing at one other end, and one of them saying to the other: “At least the hole isn’t in OUR end of the boat…”)

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Question: are the critters on the right conscious of the probable afteraffects of a default, or are they simply interested in bringing the whole system down in hopes that a new, purer, smaller government will arise?

    The ones I know are definitely in the 2nd camp and totally ignorant of the first. I know a few reasonable conservatives who realize the disaster that awaits, but out here nobody listens to them anymore than they listen to me. Still I will be contacting my Rep, the Grand Teahardist Jason Smith, and telling him what I think about all this. Won’t do any good but it will only cost 42 cents or a phone call. Then I will send him a potted plant with instructions for watering so he and his useless staff can get off the gov’t tit and let the plant do a better job.

    I am also going to contact the fine gentleman (cough cough hack) Senator Blunt. I might actually get some where with him. He runs for re-election in ’16 and he had to notice what Claire McCaskill did to Todd Akin. If Blunt isn’t scared, he should be and I will do my best to add to the weight of his worries

  14. Terrye Cravens says:

    Dpug,

    I am not sure this is entirely true. I think most people, including Republicans do not like the idea of raising the debt ceiling, but many see the need for it. That does not mean they have to like it.And I have seen polls showing that Republicans are not crazy about a shutdown either, however, that does not mean they will back the position of Barack Obama. I am sure that even if they would like to see a resolution to all this they will never admit to supporting Obama and if the situation were reversed Democrats would react the same way to a Republican president.

  15. Ernieyeball says:

    @Ben: You can have computers do the redistricting for you.

    I sure would like to see a draft of the enabling legisation to accomplish this that would pass both houses of Congress, be signed by the President and be immune to Judicial challenge.
    Maybe you can post one up.

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    the numbers are almost completely reversed for Republicans, a majority of whom (52%) believe it would be a bad thing if debt ceiling were raised.

    @Ron Beasley: What this proves that a majority of Americans Republicans are simply too stupid for Democracy to work.

    FTFY Ron.

  17. Ben says:

    @Ernieyeball:
    Your objection wasn’t about whether it would pass congress. It was whether anyone in government could be trusted to implement such a system. I was merely pointing out that trust is not needed if you wanted to do non-partisan redistricting, because the decisions could be made via simple math.

    I agree with you that such a thing would never actually pass. The problem is that both parties LIKE the ability to gerrymander, and that is a huge problem. But that is a different argument.

  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Ernieyeball:

    I sure would like to see a draft of the enabling legisation to accomplish this that would pass both houses of Congress, be signed by the President and be immune to Judicial challenge.

    According to john personna (???) they accomplished it in CA. But like you, in this day and age, I’m not holding my breath.

  19. David M says:
  20. Ernieyeball says:

    Which branch of our apoltical Federal Government will you trust to do that?

    @Ben: That wasn’t an objection it was a question.

    Ben sez: I agree with you that such a thing would never actually pass.

    Where do I say that it would never pass?

    @David M: Cali Redistricting (from that link)The Commission has faced opposition from politicians because “many safe seats in the Legislature could suddenly become competitive.”

    Bring it on!

    @OzarkHillbilly: Hold my breath.

    The ony time I do that is when I am redistricting my brain cells…

  21. Retired Steve says:

    I’m becoming increasingly jittery about my IRA portfolio, my current income source.

    As we get closer to running over the debt ceiling, I’m spending more and more time thinking that I should be cashing out of my investments.

    While I’m know that my cashing out won’t impact the market, I also thinking that there are hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, like me that are pondering the same question. When should I pull out before the market collapses?

    I sure don’t want to be among the last to pull the plug.

  22. john personna says:
  23. David M says:

    @Retired Steve:

    That’s pretty much why I feel the debt ceiling needs to be taken off the table as a negotiating tool. It’s too dangerous to be used as a hostage, especially if some of the GOP think it’s not a big deal.

    I wish the Dems would push for eliminating the debt ceiling.

  24. john personna says:

    @Retired Steve:

    I said in a “predictions” thread that this is black swan territory.

    I have no idea how the stock market would fare in [default], perhaps even rise as people dump bonds and transfer …

  25. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Ernieyeball:

    The ony time I do that is when I am redistricting my brain cells…

    Not me. I drink enough scotch to accomplish that.

  26. Cycloptichorn says:

    Oh, so you’re telling me that the GOP base disagrees with most Americans on an issue, and that’s being conveyed to their representatives in Congress?

    Shocking!

  27. Matt Bernius says:

    @Ben:

    You can have computers do the redistricting for you, based on nothing other than math. There are established algorithms to do this.

    While such a system will be arguably more fair, it’s important to note that Math and/or Algorithms are only as apolitical and fair as the people who write them. Bias can (un)intentionally be encoded into anything. The dangerous thing it that such bias is often missed because of the assumption the because the algorithm is math, it’s some how neutral.

    All that said, a properly deployed agorythmic system would be far preferably to the current gerrymander system. Unfortunately, as with the Filibuster, but sides HATE! the current system up until the point where it benefits them.

  28. JohnMcC says:

    It’s past time in this thread for someone to bring up the 14th Amendment.

  29. Ernieyeball says:

    @Retired Steve: When should I pull out before the market collapses? I sure don’t want to be among the last to pull the plug.

    Don’t worry. My investment advisor (that would be me looking in the mirror) says that even if I hang on to the bitter end all those losses will reduce my taxable income. A good way to stiff the government.

  30. Ernieyeball says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: To each his own. I gave up the swill years ago.

  31. grumpy realist says:

    The trouble is, a large number of Teahadists have the brains of a demented sheep. The present situation reminds me far too much of what happened in the run-up to WWI. They’re probably thinking: “oh, we’ll just have a little stock market crash….nothing much.”

    And as said, US debt is irrelevant by comparison to what we’re going to get hit with by Global Climate Change. We’re going to be worrying more about getting enough food to eat before we have to worry about the running out of social security.

  32. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Retired Steve: I sure don’t know what to tell you. My wife’s 401k is in the stock market by law. She can’t get out of it. My pension is in the stock market and other stuff. I can only hope the people investing it are as smart as they think they are. Back in ’07-08 it went into the red and we had one year to get back in the black. Those of us who were working (union carpenters)(not very many) had to double our pension contributions for 2 years (I was among the lucky ones, I had a job) to get it stable.

    I have some money in the bank (from an inheritance) that is waiting for the legal ins and outs before paying off our property. It should be OK (FDIC and all that). If it isn’t….

    Let’s just say things could get ugly.

  33. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Ernieyeball: I should too, but damn, no more Lagavulin?

  34. EddieInCA says:

    As this has developed, I’ve been liquidating my IRA stocks, one by one. I’ve sold every one, including my prized Apple stock, over the past two weeks. Right now, I’m sitting on cash in both of my IRA retirement accounts. If the debt ceiling goes into default, the dow will drop 1500+ points, the S&P will drop 200+ points, and the bond market will tank. That will force the GOP to finally capitulate.

    After that carnage, I will slowly start averaging in over the following 3 months as the market recovers.

    The GOP intransigence is going help me make money, and it will put the House in play for next election. The Dems only have to pick up 17 seats, and the GOP is giving them the ammo to get those 17 seats.

    Bottom line

  35. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @grumpy realist:

    And as said, US debt is irrelevant by comparison to what we’re going to get hit with by Global Climate Change. We’re going to be worrying more about getting enough food to eat before we have to worry about the running out of social security.

    Amen to that sister. The latest Nat Geo has a very revealing map (I can’t find it on their web site just now) that shows all of Louisiana under water, most of Mississippi, half of Arkansas, a considerable chunk of Texas gone when the ice caps melt. Oh, and Florida? It ceases to be livable long before that.

    One more thing, according to this, Boehner is even more craven than I gave him credit for. To say that I haven’t a clue what is going on in that caucus is probably more accurate than I like. Every time I think I have a somewhat tenuous grasp on the GOP, I read something that just leaves me going, “Whaaat??? Sasasayy what?????? They WHAT?????”

    Boehner may be even more gutless than I thought. Either that or he is so Machiavellian that the goobers don’t stand a chance. My only take on this whole mess is that it has nothing to do with Obama or the ACA. It has everything to do with the future of the GOP.

  36. Ernieyeball says:

    @EddieInCA: If the debt ceiling goes into default, the dow will drop 1500+ points, the S&P will drop 200+ points, and the bond market will tank.

    You and Nostradamus!

  37. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @EddieInCA: This sounds like the prudent course of action. Back in late ’06, early ’07 I told my wife to get her 401k out of the stock market (not super smart, just had a bad feeling about all the easy money floating around) and that was when I found out she couldn’t. Believe you me, after she lost half her retirement I wanted to undertake some 2nd Amendment solutions. I didn’t. And I won’t. I think.

  38. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Ernieyeball:

    You and Nostradamus!

    If in ’06-07 my wife had been able to pull her 401k out of the stock market? She would not have lost almost a $100k. Again, not saying I was smarter than every body else (hell no), just saying that I was right. So many other were wrong.

  39. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Ernieyeball: Oh, and I’ll never know how much my inheritance was reduced. At one point my old man was worth some where between 2-3 million. My siblings and I got app. 3/4 million. Total. How much of the reduction was the stock market? How much was his deteriorating health? I’ll never know. Doesn’t matter. It wasn’t my money to begin with.

  40. grumpy realist says:

    @Retired Steve: Well, people usually set stuff up so their retirement stream of income comes from bond interest payments. Stock is usually used as a hedge for capital growth and as a spare cushion as bond rates change.

    If you have any bonds, it would seem to me that if there’s a stock market crash, you have something very valuable on your hands since everyone will be trying to run to safety . Which you can swap out a chunk for stocks at crashed market prices. You ARE betting on a) a recovery and b) company surviving, but if you stick with blue chips you’ve minimized the risk.

    One of my friends did something like this in 2008, bought at the very bottom when everyone else was running around in a panic, and made out like a bandit. I forgot what he bought Apple at, but it was incredibly low.

    So if you have some spare cash on hand….

  41. grumpy realist says:

    @EddieInCA: Heck, you’ll have a spiffing opportunity to pick up a bundle at rock-bottom prices.

  42. Ernieyeball says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:@EddieInCA: You guys are way over my head throwing around those numbers!
    I just paid my Jackson County, Illinois Real Estate Tax last week on my Humble Half Acre Hillside and the county Mobile Home tax on my 14×70 1977 Trailer House that is teetering thereon earlier this year.
    Annual RE Tax $19.87 Annual MH Tax $50.00
    At $24000 the new 2013 Ford Fusion I bought with a lump sum pension I received from one of my former employers the value of my car approaches the bulk of my net worth.
    I keep hearing that Social Security payments will continue despite the DC Follies. I will believe that when I see it in my bank account a week from today.
    If not at least I have a new ride that will get me to the Potomic so I might express my displeasure to these Tea Party Dipsticks that are screwing with me.

  43. Ernieyeball says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Inheritance? What’s that? When my daddy died I got his wristwatch and his fine Fedora. The watch quit but I still have the hat!

  44. jukeboxgrad says:

    Inheritance? What’s that?

    When my father died I got a negative inheritance. He owed me some money I never saw again.

  45. rudderpedals says:

    Like jukeboxgrad, all he left me was a loan.

  46. jukeboxgrad says:

    Papa Was a Rolling Stone. Excellent!

  47. Todd says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    I’ve written repeatedly that I don’t like or support the House Republicans’ stance and think they have other alternatives. But, clearly, they’re not completely insane, either. Just different ideas of risk and reward.

    If we’re talking purely about the political “game”, then yes I can see your “not completely insane” argument.

    But …

    If we’re talking about actually governing between elections (which I suspect is what our founders probably envisioned), then I’m sorry but they’re F&*%ing bonkers.

  48. anjin-san says:

    @ rudderpedals

    and that ain’t right…

  49. David M says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    I’ve written repeatedly that I don’t like or support the House Republicans’ stance and think they have other alternatives. But, clearly, they’re not completely insane, either. Just different ideas of risk and reward.

    Depends whether you’re talking about the government shutdown / stop Obamacare plan or actually not raising the debt ceiling. One of those is definitely a dumb plan likely doomed for failure but the other is completely insane. There is no upside for default, even in a safe GOP district.

  50. Xenos says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Your wife’s 401(k) did not have a money market or short-term bond option? That is appalling.

    Granted, I felt like a genius when I put everything to a money market account in the spring of 2008, only to see even the cash-equivalent markets lock up. Did not feel so clever then!

  51. grumpy realist says:

    @Xenos: Plus the other problem is that MMFs don’t fall under FDIC protection, if I remember correctly.