How the GOP 2013 Shutdown Fiasco became the Startup of Corrective Action for a 2014 Senate Takeover January 16, 2014 Vol. VII, No. 3 7:13 pm Shutdown hurt Republicans ten times more than it hurt Democrats The GOP’s failure to take back the White House and U.S. Senate in 2012 sparked a year
How the GOP 2013 Shutdown Fiasco became the Startup of Corrective Action for a 2014 Senate Takeover
January 16, 2014 Vol. VII, No. 3 7:13 pm
Shutdown hurt Republicans ten times more than it hurt Democrats
The GOP’s failure to take back the White House and U.S. Senate in 2012 sparked a year of bitter feuding. Establishment conservatives and Tea Party insurgents blamed each other for destroying yet another opportunity to right the nation’s ship. But, then came October 1, 2013; the day of the government shutdown. A fiasco that damaged Republicans so badly that it became the startup of corrective action for a GOP takeover of the U.S. Senate in 2014.
Granted, American voters blamed everyone associated with the shutdown, even dubbing the 113th Congress the “Worst Congress in History.” A Democrat-led Senate; Republican-led House. According to Gallup, only 5% of Democrats approved of the job Congress was doing in October 2013; only 13% of Independents and 15% of Republicans approved.
But most of all, voters blamed the Republican Party. Ten times more than the Democrats.
Two weeks after the shutdown, October 25-28, 2013, NBC News and The Wall Street Journal collaborated on a national bipartisan survey of voter opinion of congressional action on the budget debate. Two of the country’s most respected polling firms, Peter D. Hart Research Associates, a Democratic firm, and a Republican firm Public Opinion Strategies, were hired to lead the project.
Voter replies to Question 13 disclosed why the GOP shutdown hurt Republicans the most:
Question 13: Do you want [Democratic and Republican] leaders in the House and Senate to make compromises to gain consensus on the current budget debate, or do you want them to stick to their positions even if it means not being able to gain consensus on the budget?
- 71% of Independents said "Make Compromises;" 18% said "Stick to Positions"
- 68% of Democrats said "Make Compromises;" 23% said "Stick to Positions"
- 46% of Republicans said "Make Compromises;" 47% said "Stick to Positions"
Overwhelmingly, the survey showed that Independent voters (4-to-1) and Democrats (3-to-1) favored “Make Compromises.” Even half of the Republicans said “Make Compromises.”
Despite Republican attempts to argue that it was the Democrats who were culpable of irresponsible recalcitrance, the NBC News/The Wall Street Journal national bipartisan survey showed that voters saw the GOP as the party least willing to make compromises.
Question 5: Now I'm going to read you the names of several public figures and groups. I'd like you to rate your feelings toward each one as very positive, somewhat positive, neutral, somewhat negative, or very negative.
|Public Figures and Groups Gallup October 25-28, 2013||
|The Democratic Party||
|The Tea Party Movement||
|The Republican Party||
There you have it. The Democratic Party’s net positive (37%) over negative (40%) is a negative 3%. The Republican Party’s net positive (22%) over negative (53%) is a negative 31%.
Bottom line: the shutdown hurt Republicans ten times more than it hurt Democrats.
The Tea Party Gets Tea Partied
When voters were asked in the NBC News/The Wall Street Journal survey if they supported the Tea Party, 70% of the respondents said "No," only 22% said "Yes." Unfortunately for Ken Cuccinelli, Tea Party candidate for Governor of Virginia, anti-Tea Party sentiment was peaking with Election Day only a week away. On November 6, 2013, he lost.
Establishment Republicans in Virginia had never warmed up to Cuccinelli. He was off the charts to the right on social and economic issues. Many, along with numerous state and national business groups, chose not to back the Republican nominee with checks. The RNC gave only a third of what they had given to Governor Bob McDonald in 2009. The U.S. Chamber stayed out.
The Tea Party, long known for attacking the Republican establishment, got Tea Partied. But it didn’t stop in Virginia. The anti-Tea Party defiance continued for the remainder of 2013.
- Gov. Chris Christie proved on November 6 that a Republican could win in a Democrat-friendly state like New Jersey without the help of the Tea Party
- In December, a Tea Party candidate for Congress in Alabama was defeated by a business-backed candidate who received $200,000 from the U.S. Chamber
- U.S House Speaker Boehner thumbed his nose at the Tea Party in December when they criticized the bipartisan budget deal co-authored by GOP Rep. Paul Ryan
- “Frankly, I just think they’ve lost all credibility,” Boehner told reporters
- 87 House Republicans joined the Democrats in support of the budget compromise
- 27 Senate Republicans voted with Senate Democrats to pass the compromise bill
The damage to Republicans caused by the Tea Party-led 2013 government shutdown helped most Republicans realize that even though government is the cause of many problems, the needs of many Americans are too great to ignore the importance of finding effective compromise solutions.
Ironically, the 2013 government shutdown fiasco, a divisive event that could have led to another missed opportunity to right the nation’s ship, instead galvanized most Republicans against the Tea Party brand of leadership. The government shutdown caused most American voters, Democrats (71%), Independents (68%) and Republicans (46%), to demand a new model of leadership in our nation’s capital; a model that values compromise over sticking to beliefs.
The latest evidence that Americans are uniting against the Tea Party was seen on January 15, 2014, when the U.S. House voted 359-67 for a $1.1 trillion spending bill. The bill was a bipartisan agreement, much to the dismay of Tea Party groups like FreedomWorks and Heritage Action.
The 2013 shutdown fiasco could have been the death knell for Republican political dreams. Instead, it became the startup of corrective action for a GOP U.S. Senate takeover in 2014.
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John N. Davis, Editor