Shutdown politics, who has the upper hand?

Last night, in considering which party will be blamed the most for a sustained partial government shutdown, I mentioned two polls. The first, by the Washington Post, found that, by a 20-point margin, more Americans will blame President Trump and Republicans than Democrats. This, I believe, is similar to what most polls are showing, even though it was the Dems who voted to defeat a bill that would have kept the government functioning fully.

However, the second poll I mentioned, by CNN, suggested to me that Republicans might gain the upper hand in the blame game. That’s because of how the public adjudges the dispute that has led to the partial shutdown.

Specifically, 56 percent of Americans think it’s more important to avoid a government shutdown than to “continue DACA.” 34 percent think it is more important to “continue DACA.” The discontinuation of DACA is precisely the reason why Democrats are unwilling to vote for bills that would keep the government fully functioning.

CNN reporters Ryan Struyk and Jennifer Agiesta read this poll the same way I do. In fact, in an article called “Why Democrats may be making the wrong bet on the shutdown,” they point to additional findings that could cause the public, in the end, to blame Democrats more than Republicans.

Not only do more Americans say avoiding a shutdown is important than continuing DACA, a majority says finding a DACA fix is more important than opposing the wall. Trump and the GOP clearly are willing to do a DACA fix. To the extent Democrats are seen as unwilling to do a proper wall, public opinion may turn against them.

The CNN poll also found that the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is seen as a higher priority than DACA. One would hope so. CHIP is for lower income American children, some 9 million of them. DACA is for illegal immigrants, fewer than 1 million of them.

But Democrats are giving DACA the higher priority. They have blocked legislation that would extend CHIP because it doesn’t revive DACA.

Thus, although public opinion seems to favor the Democrats now, and the mainstream media will do everything it can to keep things that way, the dynamic could easily change if an extended shutdown causes the public to think about who is arguing what.

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