Much has been made over the past week and a half or so over the partial government shutdown, who is winning the battle, and what policies will result from it.
Establishment Republicans continue taking sideswipes at grassroots-oriented conservatives, especially Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT). Some in the establishment of the GOP have even stooped to calling Cruz and Lee, and their grassroots supporters, “traitors.”
Meanwhile, across the aisle, Democrats like President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi accuse the Tea Party movement of being vitriolic, hateful, and nefariously motivated. The establishment’s friends in the mainstream media echo those smears and hold off-the-record meetings at the White House with the president.
Despite the establishment’s hue and cry about grassroots conservatives, Cruz, Lee, and their conservative counterparts in the House and the movement’s leaders outside the halls of Congress are winning the debate. President Obama’s approval rating has plummeted to 37 percent, and his disapproval rating has skyrocketed to 53 percent.
More polling data shows that compared to the 1995 shutdown, Americans are much more split on who to blame this time around. In 1995, a Gallup/CNN/USA Today poll found that 49 percent blamed congressional Republicans for the shutdown, 26 percent blamed then-President Bill Clinton, and 19 percent blamed both.
This time around, Americans are more evenly split. A Washington Post/ABC News poll released on Oct. 7 found that 70 percent of Americans disapprove of Republicans, 61 percent disapprove of congressional Democrats, and 51 percent disapprove of President Obama. A Pew Research survey released the same day found that while 38 percent blamed Republicans for the shutdown, 30 percent blamed President Obama. Another 19 percent blamed both Republicans and Democrats, while 13 percent were unsure who to blame.
A CNN poll also released on Oct. 7 found that while 63 percent of Americans are angry at the GOP, 57 percent of Americans are angry at Democrats and 53 percent are angry at Obama. “Independents are equally angry at all sides, with 59% of Independents very or somewhat angry at the Democrats, six in 10 angry at the GOP, and 58% angry at Obama,” the CNN poll also found, showing a statistical tie.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich wrote that he was “just plain surprised” by the results of that poll and that it “almost shocked me.”
“When I saw the poll was due to be released, I expected the Republicans to be taking a beating considering the terms President Barack Obama and his staff have been using to describe them over the past 10 days (‘extremists,’ ‘people with a bomb strapped to their chest’) and the unfair, derogatory press coverage of their position,” Gingrich wrote in an op-ed published on Tuesday. “The results are so dramatically better for Republicans and worse for the Democrats and Obama than I expected that I was curious to see just how much better Republicans are faring during the shutdown of 2013 (and how much worse the president and the Democrats are faring) than in comparable polls of the 1995-96 shutdowns.”
In addition to the shutdown narrative being pushed by the media, the president, and the Democrats, Americans similarly are growing even more wary of Obamacare–the law that conservatives aimed to defund, but Reid’s and Obama’s refusal to negotiate led to the impasse that shut the government down.
A CBS News poll released on Oct. 3 found that 51 percent of Americans disapprove of Obamacare, 43 percent approve, and 6 percent are unsure. A Fox News poll released the same day found that 51 percent disapprove of Obamacare, 45 percent approve of the law, and 4 percent are unsure. A CNN poll released on Sept. 30 found 57 percent of Americans oppose Obamacare, 38 percent of Americans favor it, and 4 percent have no opinion.