Friday, January 19, 2018


A government shutdown is imminent, the blame game has started, and a lot of liberals and Democrats are angrily insisting that no reasonable person could possibly blame anyone other than the Republicans for what's happening -- Republicans control the White House and both houses of Congress, the Republican president has signaled his support for a fix saving the Dreamers only to go back on his word, and Republicans have cynically used both the DACA and CHIP programs as bargaining chips.

Those are the Democratic arguments, but I don't think the public will buy them. On the other hand, I don't think it will matter in the long run.

We know what's going to happen. Messaging in the right-wing media is going to give 100% of the blame to Democrats. This messaging will be relentless if there's a shutdown. By contrast, the mainstream press will blame both sides, or just blame Democrats and their allies.

Republicans got the blame for the 2013 shutdown. Here was a CBS poll:
As they did when the shutdown first began, more Americans blame the Republicans in Congress than blame Barack Obama and the Democrats in Congress for the partial government shutdown and the difficulties in reaching an agreement on the debt ceiling. Nearly half (46 percent) blame the Republicans in Congress, while just over a third (35 percent) blames Barack Obama and the Democrats.

Blame continues to break down along party lines. Most Republicans (71 percent) blame Barack Obama and congressional Democrats, while Democrats blame the Republicans in Congress in even higher numbers (85 percent). Independents are divided.
The numbers were worse for Republicans in a Washington Post/ABC poll:
Asked who they consider responsible for the impasse, 53 percent of poll respondents cite Republicans, 29 percent blame Obama and 15 percent fault both sides equally.
In that poll, independents largely blamed Republicans.

That precedent suggests that the party protesting the party in power gets the blame for a shutdown. But for Republicans, of course, it didn't matter in the long run.

Look at the Real Clear Politic schart of poll averages on the "generic ballot" question in the run-up to the 2014 midterms.

The blue peak in the middle of the chart represents polls taken around the time of the shutdown. At that point, a lot of Americans were expressing a desire to vote for Democratic congressional candidates rather than Republicans. But Republicans went on to trounce Democrats in the 2014 elections. The shutdown had been forgotten.

That blue wave in the fall of 2013 ended quickly -- once the shutdown was over, voters turned their attention to struggles with the website. Now, what do you think will happen after any shutdown that happens now? The president is sure to regain control of the news cycle. There are going to be so many negative stories about him between the resolution of this impasse and November that the shutdown -- unless it goes on for months -- will be a dim memory.

So don't be angry if Democrats take a hit in the polls. The bad numbers shouldn't linger.


OOPS: For now at least, I'm wrong.
By a 20-point margin, more Americans blame President Trump and Republicans rather than Democrats for a potential government shutdown, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

A 48 percent plurality says Trump and congressional Republicans are mainly responsible for the situation resulting from disagreements over immigration laws and border security, while 28 percent fault Democrats. A sizable 18 percent volunteer that both parties are equally responsible. Political independents drive the lopsided margin of blame, saying by 46 to 25 percent margin that Republicans and Trump are responsible for the situation.
Maybe Trump really is killing the Republican Party -- with an assist from his congressional party mates, who are doing very few things the public wants.

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