Is the Government Shutdown Really a “Win” for Democrats, Harmful for Republicans?

Articles in the National Journal, the Washington Examiner, and a poll released by Heritage Action in August all tell us something similar: Republicans will likely maintain their majority in the House of Representatives in the next election cycle.   Current polling data, some quality political analysis, and a look at the last government shutdown all help lead to that conclusion.

It’s safe to say President Obama and Senate Democrats were banking on America blaming Republicans for a government shutdown and consequently taking a hit in the next election cycle.  It appears their calculus was off by rather a lot, according to the National Journal:

A recent Bloomberg survey found that 40 percent blame the GOP for what’s wrong in Washington, while 38 percent blame the president and congressional Democrats. Back in February, Obama had a nine-point edge over Republicans and independents were evenly divided over who was responsible. Now, 42 percent of independents fault with Obama and his allies in Congress, while 34 percent blame Republicans on Capitol Hill.

The latest CNN poll found a similar trend, with the percentage who blame congressional Republicans for a government shutdown down five points and the percent who blame Obama up three points.

It’s beyond reason how the Left thinks it’s Republican’s fault that the government shut down, when Republicans passed several bills to fund the government but give Americans the same break from Obamacare being given to Mr. Obama’s cronies — especially when most Americans oppose Obamacare. 

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Sorry Leftists, #SorryIsntGoodEnough, Obamacare Needs to Go

The Obamacare exchanges are Tweeting their apologies today for the exchanges that already aren’t working.  #Sorry. Here’s the headline:

Obamacare exchanges tweet their apologies

Here are some other headlines highlighting the failure of Obamacare health care exchanges on day 1… and this is just the beginning.

Signing up for Obamacare: ‘This was totally disappointing.’

Videos: ObamaCare rollout performance … “lower than projected”

President Obama: Expect months of ‘glitches’

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Obama: “I Shouldn’t Have to Offer Anything”

And — if — if we — Steve, when you say, “What can I offer?” — I shouldn’t have to offer anything. — President Barack Obama, on the eve of government shutdown, September 30, 2013

In an interview Monday with NPR’s Steve Inskeep, President Obama expressed his obstinacy and unwillingness to do what is best for the American people.  He feels as though he shouldn’t have to offer anything to protect America from Obamacare.

Sadly the Left just won’t come to terms with Obamacare’s failures or its broad unpopularity.  White House Press Secretary Jay Carney is obviously no exception to that rule.  But his defense of President Obama and Obamacare is weak and frankly embarrassing for the Left:

When pressed on the President’s lack of leadership, Carney responded:

Chris, they don’t like the Affordable Care Act and they ought to try to change it any way they can or repeal it any way they can.  And in fact in the House, now they’ve done that 42 times. 

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.@SenatorReid Cares About Public Relations and Protecting Obamacare, The American People Be Damned

Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) 13% seems to care more about public relations than he does about protecting Americans from the ravages of Obamacare.

But don’t take it from us.  He mistakenly called the continuing resolution, or CR, the “PR” twice today in a press conference after the Senate tabled (i.e. killed) the House CR to fund the government but delay Obamacare for one year.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) 9%, normally quite an aggressive and bold speaker, was quickly shot down when he tried to help Harry find the right word.

“I got it!” Reid snapped.

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Rebutting Conventional Wisdom: Government Shutdown and the Battle to Stop Obamacare

Tomorrow, a partial government shutdown may occur if President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) continue to risk a government shutdown to protect Obamacare.  The House has already passed two pieces of legislation to fund the government while stopping Obamacare.  It is prideful, pompous, and shameful that the Left is willing to shutdown the government just to keep this failed law – a law opposed by 57 percent of Americans – afloat.

No conservative wants a government shutdown; we simply want to stop Obamacare.  Liberals need to let the talking points go and face the harsh reality that Obamacare is destroying health care in America.  If the government is shutdown temporarily because liberals remain in denial, conservatives will not be to blame.

And it’s not just that we don’t want them to take the blame; it’s that a careful (rather than cursory) reading of history demonstrates they won’t need to.  Even if they do take slightly more blame than President Obama as indicated by current polling, it will likely have insignificant implications for them politically.

Conventional wisdom about the government shutdown that occurred during the winter of 1995 – 1996 says that Republicans took most of the blame and they suffered for it in subsequent elections.  A recent article in The Guardian contests this notion.

First, polls today indicate that Republicans would take more blame for a shutdown than President Obama, but the divide is not nearly as great as it was in 1995 – 1996, when there was a 19 point divide.  Today the divide is a mere 3 points.

The author strongly questions some of the conventional assumptions surrounding the 1995 – 1996 shutdown.  He disagrees with the common assumption that the shutdown was strongly correlated to if not responsible for President Bill Clinton’s reelection:

I would argue that this looming shutdown will offer nowhere such a clear win for Obama and the Democrats as it did for Clinton. The 1996 elections didn’t differ at all from what you’d expect – given the state of the economy and the outcomes of congressional elections in presidential years when there is split government.

He also explains that, though one may think otherwise, the budget showdown and subsequent shutdown of 1995 – 1996 simply did not result in a steep decline in Congressional approval.  Yes, Congressional Republican approval went down a point or two, but so did President Clinton’s.

Then, in the months after the shutdown, both President Clinton and Congressional Republicans’ approval rose.

The author’s fundamental assertion is this: President Clinton won – and Republicans lost – the 1996 election because the economy was doing well, not because Republicans took more blame for the government shutdown:

There just isn’t much sign that 1996 differed from what you’d expect, given the fundamentals. Clinton won the national vote by a little less than 9pt over Dole. One would think that if the shutdown had really hurt Republicans over the long term, then Clinton would have done far better than the economy would suggest. That simply didn’t happen.

In short, there’s just no clear evidence that House Republicans suffered, even if they were largely blamed for the shutdown.

In fact, Senate Republicans actually picked up two seats in 1996.

Many in the media, along with “more seasoned” lawmakers, have used the 1996 shutdown and the potential of a partial government shutdown today to scare Republicans and to deter them from standing on conservative principle. But as this article suggests, it is unwise to let conventional wisdom guide our predictions for the forthcoming elections.

That being said, conservatives are concerned with policy, not politics.  We know that Obamacare is harming individual citizens, the quality of healthcare in America, and the economy.  And even the Left – though many continue to parrot President Obama who continues to delude himself about Obamacare’s “quality, affordable health insurance” –  acknowledges that Obamacare is bad policy and harmful to America.

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