Thursday, October 10, 2013

Shutdown and 2014

The shutdown strategy of the Republicans has failed. They have failed to convince the public the pain of a shutdown is worth the benefit of stopping Obamacare. The media coverage has been relentlessly bad with stories of hardship and inconveniences and President Obama and Democrats have effectively politicized it.

Most importantly, Tea Party House members are watching fellow swing district members give up the fight. There are now more than 20 Republican members ready to join Democrats to end the shutdown.

But, the conventional opinion that the Washington shutdown will hurt Republicans in their 2014 effort to hold the House and win more Senate seats in swing states may be wrong. Poll shows in the short-term they are losing, but there are several factors that mitigate the longer-term effect:
  • Although Republicans are less favored than Democrats, people dislike Washington in general much more. The entire government is being blamed.
  • Although the shutdown is opposed as a political tactic, Americans are very ambivalent about government. They tend to believe it is too big and is full of fraud, waste and abuse. If given a choice, they prefer it smaller.
  • Obamacare, while not as disliked as a shutdown, has not been popular with a plurality, and in some polls, a majority of the public. Being willing to change it is seen as positive and the President’s position of not even talking about it is seen as nearly as unreasonable as House Republican members.
  • When asked who is most at fault, the President looks to be winning the immediate political exchange. But, similar to the debt ceiling crisis of the summer of 2011, Obama may be blamed for not solving the problem regardless of who is seen as the cause. And, in fact, his overall approval is now below 40 percent in some polls – a new low.
Although other and new factors and events will help shape the 2014 environment, Republicans have likely learned a lesson about having an end game strategy.

New York Times: G.O.P. elders see liabilities in shutdown
The Buzz: Sequester wars
Gallup: Republican Party favorability sinks to record low
Gallup: Americans see current shutdown as more serious than in ‘95
Pew: Anger at government most pronounced among conservative Republicans
Pew: Partisans dug in on budget, health care impasse
Real Clear Politics: Poll: GOP gets more blame for shutdown, Obama job approval falls to 37%

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