What to make of adverse polling in the sequester blame game

Much is being made of a Pew poll in which 49 percent say they will blame congressional Republicans if the sequester occurs, compared to only 31 percent who say they will blame President Obama. 11 percent say they will blame both sides, while 8 percent don’t know which side they will blame.

I suspect that if the sequester occurs the percentage that blames both sides will increase (in a sense, after all, this is the correct answer) and the percentage that blames congressional Republicans will decrease somewhat.

But the important question is, who will likely voters in the congressional seats currently held by Republicans blame. Similarly, how will blame be apportioned by likely voters in battleground 2014 Senate races (e.g., Arkansas, North Carolina, Alaska, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, West Virginia, and South Dakota). My sense is that, in both of these samples, the numbers are far less favorable to Obama than are the national numbers.

Another question is whether the sequester will be a factor at all in the November 2014 election. One can imagine plausible scenarios in which it is, but also plausible scenarios in which it has long since been forgotten. I have no clear idea which set of scenarios is more plausible.

The final question is, assuming (1) that Obama will come out of sequestration smelling better than Republicans even in Republican districts and Red States and (2) the effect will linger through the next election cycle, what should Republicans do? They could call off the sequester. But this would mean not addressing the spending and debt problems that Republicans consider of crisis proportions.

Alternatively, they could cut a deal with Obama. But this would mean agreeing to yet more taxation and to considerably less in spending cuts than Republicans deem necessary.

Given these alternatives, I think the best option is to proceed with the sequester while promoting legislation that would make it more rational.


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