A plurality of Americans, 44%, say Republicans deserve more blame for the government shutdown, according to a new CBS poll. But, a surprising 35% believe President Obama, who has publicly refused to negotiate with the GOP, deserves more of the blame over the shutdown. The slim eight-point margin is similar to the findings of a poll taken a week before the shutdown. The findings confirm that the parties will suffer equally from any fallout over the shutdown.
The media and Democrats are convinced that the political fallout over the current shutdown will be similar to the shutdowns in 1995-96. According to conventional wisdom, the Republicans suffered a political backlash and blame for driving the shutdown during Clinton’s first term.
Indeed, polls at the time showed a majority of Americans, 51%, “blamed” the Republicans for that shutdown. Just 28% blamed President Clinton. The 23-point spread between Republicans and Clinton is almost three-times the margin between Republicans and Obama this year.
Even though Republicans in 1996 were “blamed” for the shutdown by lop-sided margins, they suffered few political repercussions. They lost just a handful of seats in the House and held their majority for the next decade. In the Senate, the GOP actually increased its majority in the 1996 presidential election. They too held their majority in the Chamber for the next decade.
As President Obama and the Democrats stand their ground and continue to refuse to negotiate the current stand-off, it is likely that the public will hold them more accountable for the shutdown as days pass. In the days leading up to the shut-down, the mainstream media used all its tools to cast Republicans as the party responsible for the shutdown.
That the public blames Obama almost equally should be a warning to Democrats.