News & Politics

Shutdown 'Blame Game' a Pointless Exercise

(AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

The partisan media on both sides is filled with predictions of disaster for the other party as a result of the government shutdown currently underway. Republicans point to the reason for the shutdown — Democrats refusing to fund the government until DACA legislation is passed — as favoring them while Democrats point to one poll that shows the public blaming Republicans far more than Democrats.

Obviously, they both can’t be right. Does the GOP have a stronger case? Just prior to the shutdown vote in the Senate, a poll came out that sort of, kind of, confirms the GOP’s thinking.


With hours to go before a midnight deadline for Congress to fund the government or shut it down, most Americans say avoiding a shutdown is more important than passing a bill to maintain the program allowing people brought to the US illegally as children to stay, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS.

But Democrats taking a hard line on legislation connecting government funding to the popular program known as DACA appear to have the backing of their constituents, and more overall say President Donald Trump or the Republicans in Congress would be responsible for a shutdown if one happens.

Why would CNN include both Trump and Republicans as separate parties in the poll? Why not just poll on which party is to blame?  And if you’re going to separate the GOP leader from the rest of the party, why not have a separate poll on “Schumer and the Democrats”?

Apparently, the only way to make sure that it appears the GOP is to blame is by allowing people to express their opinion of the president (who gets blamed for everything) as well as Republicans. I wonder what the vote would have been if the choice was between Republicans and Democrats?

What the poll can’t hide is that the public doesn’t think DACA is worth shutting down the government over. And since DACA is the reason for the shutdown, it makes sense that the public is going to blame Democrats more than the GOP for the failure to fund the government.

But “sense” has nothing to do with it. In fact, it’s a useless exercise to assign blame for the failure of our Congress. Once the government is funded again, the issue will disappear and have no effect on the midterms in November, despite the confident boasts of partisan Democrats.

The most recent example of a shutdown playing no role in electoral politics was in 2013 when Republicans shut down the government, ostensibly over Obamacare funding. The shutdown occurred a little more than a year before the 2014 midterms. At the time, a significantly higher percentage of voters blamed Republicans for the shutdown.

But by Election Day 2014, the public had forgotten the shutdown and whom to blame. The GOP picked up 13 House seats and 9 Senate seats, and made significant gains at the state level.

If the Democrats have a wave election in 2018, it won’t be because the government stopped working for a few days. Anti-Trump hatred, ginned up by Democrats and their hysterical charges against the president and Republicans, will make a far bigger impact than anything that happened nine months before voters go to the polls.