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FixGov

GOP Overplays its Hand with Obamacare in the Government Shutdown of 2013

William A. Galston

Everyone else is talking about Obamacare and defaulting on the debt, so let’s talk about politics instead.

The respected Quinnipiac University team released its latest national survey early this morning.  The results should make all sentient Republicans shudder. The highlights:

  • By a margin of 72 to 22 percent, voters oppose shutting down the federal government to block Obamacare.
  • By a margin of 64 to 27, they oppose blocking an increase in the debt ceiling to thwart Obamacare.
  • By a margin of 58 to 34, they oppose cutting off funding for the health care law.
  • 55 percent of voters blame Republican obstructionism for the gridlock in Washington, compared to 33 percent who blame Obama.
  • By a margin of 51 to 38 percent, voters trust Obama to do a better job of helping the middle class, and by 47 to 38, a better job dealing with health care.
  • Approval of the job congressional Republicans are doing is down to 17 percent—the lowest ever.
  • 44 percent of Republicans oppose the shutdown.

These sentiments have electoral consequences.  Democrats have opened up a 9-point lead over Republicans for next year’s House elections—more than enough to regain a majority.  One big reason why: they lead Republicans by 2 to 1 among moderate voters.  Republicans are trailing among voters of all ages—even retirees, their strongest supporters in recent years.  Speaker Boehner’s strategy of allowing the Tea Party tail to wag the Republican dog is costing his party support in the center of the electorate, which despite polarization is large enough to swing elections if it shifts decisively in one direction or the other.

The Southern-dominated GOP seems determined to reenact Pickett’s charge, with Boehner playing the reluctant Gen. Longstreet.  The results are likely to be the same.

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