The question is: Do most Americans agree?
The latest available pre-slim-down poll taken by the Washington Post-ABC News Sept. 25-29 indicated Republicans might be at a bit of a disadvantage. The poll asked how the president and the two parties were “handling negotiations over the federal budget.” Never mind that the question was quite misleading because Obama and Senate majority leader Harry Reid have flat out refused to negotiate with Republicans in general and the House in particular.
Here’s how the poll numbers broke: 50 percent disapproved of Obama’s actions and 41 percent approved; 56 percent disapproved of the Democrats and 34 percent approved; 63 percent disapproved of the Republicans and 26 percent approved.
Another poll taken Sept. 23-29 by Quinnipiac University (private, located in Hamden, Conn., named for an Indian tribe, originally Connecticut College of Commerce) came up with much worse readings for Republicans. In this poll of registered voters, 74 percent disapproved “of the job Republicans in Congress are doing, their lowest score ever” — but 60 percent disapproved of the Dems.
There’s a sizable gap between these two polls. So which is right or are both wrong?
A comment by Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac poll, was on target, regardless of the gap. He said, “Voters are angry at almost everyone in Washington … but they are madder at the Republicans than the Democrats.” While Americans “are certainly not in love with Obamacare,” he said, “they reject decisively the claim by Congressional Republicans that it is so bad that it’s worth closing down the government to stop it.”
Of course, this gets back to the basic problem all along: Republicans get blamed for “closing down the government” despite their efforts to amend the resolution on the budget and negotiate with the Senate, and despite the refusal of the Democrat-controlled Senate to negotiate, choosing to pronounce every proposal from the House DOA — dead on arrival.
That strategy is based on the sense by Obama and the Democrats that they can win public opinion battle without giving an inch. The joker in this deck for Republicans is that Obamacare, the target of their thus far futile amendment efforts, cranked up yesterday with its funding assured without the pending budget resolution.
Meanwhile, the stock market more or less yawned instead of diving into a tailspin as might have been expected, thus giving a sense of security, false or otherwise.
Reading the polls, it’s hard to see how Obama and the Democrats can come out of this standoff any better off although they are working up their 2014 campaign talking points. The Republicans may be more at risk, judging from the aforementioned polls. But voters are often unpredictable and it’s certain that their memories are short, and issues change. This year’s winners may turn into next year’s losers.