Republicans seem to think it’s good politics to threaten a government shutdown in exchange for a delay in Obamacare. President Barack Obama thinks he’s got the upper hand.
What if both were true?
New polling suggests that could be the case. Here’s why: in individual conservative districts, Obamacare is deeply unpopular, still. But nationally — and in key swing districts — the push to defund or delay is a dud.
Take a look at a survey of 18 congressional districts conducted for the conservative American Action Forum by Republican pollster OnMessage Inc. Across all the districts, the health care law is still opposed by 57% of voters, including 60% of independent voters. But here’s the rub: the opposition is concentrated in true conservative districts, reaching 66%. In swing districts, half say they oppose the law.
That helps explain why House Republicans are willing to take such a hard line. Their voters support them.
The GOP poll also asked whether it’s appropriate to negotiate spending along with Obamacare defunding. Across the districts, Republicans have a five point edge. A 43% plurality said they agreed that that the GOP was “right to use every opportunity Congress has to defund or delay Obamacare.” But in swing districts, Democrats held the advantage, with 42% agree with the Democratic message, compared to 37% for the GOP argument. In GOP-held Democratic districts, Republicans have a narrow edge, 43%-41%.
The picture changes again when the polling goes national. A recent CNN poll found that 46% of Americans would blame Republicans in the House for a shutdown, 36% said they mostly blame the president and 13% blamed both equally. Those are the numbers that are encouraging to Democrats.
Democrats have argued that a government shutdown could be a game-changer for them in the 2014 midterms, especially helping them in the House, where they face an uphill battle with needing to win 17 seats for control and fewer competitive seats thanks to last year’s redistricting.
In a CNBC poll last week, 59% of Americans said they were opposed to defunding Obamacare if it meant a shutdown and government default, while just 19% favored it.
“On policy, the verdict is in. Among voters across the spectrum, Obamacare is unpopular and the funding bill is an appropriate place to fight for government reforms,” American Action Forum President and former CBO Director Doug Holtz-Eakin said in a statement. “They will support efforts to keep the government open and make changes to Obamacare.”
The OnMessage Inc. poll was conducted in 18 congressional districts from September 25-26 and surveyed 1,2200 likely voters. The margin of error is +/-2.82%.
First published September 30 2013, 11:11 AM