I was very interested to see that the very definition of Washington conventional wisdom, The Hill, called the goverment shutdown a rout of the Republicans. In Winners and Losers of the Debt-Limit Fight, Bob Cusack listed ten winners. Of them, seven were Democrats, one was a mix (women lawmakers), one was staff members but it explicitly made Republican David Vitter a loser, and one was Chris Christie, but only because he looks better because the other Republicans look so much worse. (I question this; Christie might look better in a 2016 general election, but he probably looks worse in the primary.)
Among the losers were some obvious concessions to “balance.” For example, Joe Biden was a loser because he wasn’t involved with the deal at all. That makes even less than no sense. And for some reason Cusack thinks immigration reform is worse off now than it was before. It was dead before and it’s dead now. Dead is dead. Two of the items are neutral, but I think they too hurt the Republicans. The first is “trust in the government.” That’s true, but I would say it is more along the lines of “Trust in the government when Republicans are in charge.” The second neutral item was the economy. Again, I think the real takeaway is that the Republicans will harm the economy. But the big losers are John Boehner and the GOP campaign committees that are seeing less money pouring in.
With all this conventional wisdom, you would think the Republicans would be off somewhere licking their wounds. But that isn’t the case. As I noted last night, Fox News was pushing the narrative that the Republicans were hurt but no more than the Democrats and Obama. But it seems that the most radical elements of the House Republican Caucus are at least trying to spin the shutdown as a glorious victory. Dave Weigel has all the gory details, but I thought this exchange was just brilliant:
Even outside the Chick-fil-A chamber, Republicans were full of reasons why the shutdown hadn’t hurt. Arizona Rep. David Schweikert tore into one reporter’s question about the “polls” showing the GOP’s reputation falling. “Did you look at the samples?” asked Schweikert. After the reporter slumped away, Schweikert told me that the media’s polls missed the target.
“We were in the field last week doing some polling,” he said. “I think the left and some of the media supporters on the left are going to be shocked when they look at these underlying numbers—the margin against the health care law among swing voters. The left hates me—the left has always hated me!—the right is with me, and the swing voters are moving. There was some amazing data in there.”
Does this mean that Republicans would enter into another shutdown standoff with no fear? That’s not how they look at it. They view any attempt to blame them for the shutdown, and not the president, as media bias in concentrate. This shutdown proved them right, and they’ll carry that knowledge into the budget battle.
“I think this exposed the president and made clear to the public that he’s unwilling to compromise,” said Michigan Rep. Justin Amash. “There’s going to be a lot of focus over the next few months about the failures of Obamacare. It’ll help Republicans because we stood up and fought—and there’s nobody who can blame Republicans, at this point, for Obamacare. We did what we could.”
The claim about the poll samples is priceless. This goes back to a Ted Cruz statement that 20% of one poll was government workers. He claimed that 20% of the people were not government workers. Except that they are. It’s interesting how these Republicans want to question the details of polling when it doesn’t fit their purposes. But they are willing to fund completely distorted polls. Or in the case of Schweikert’s polling “in the field,” it is undoubtedly something like, “I met with a group of Tea Party activists and they all agreed with me!”
The main thing here is the sense that the left is going to wake up tomorrow and be shocked to learn that the people really did support the Republicans. It’s very much like Linus yelling on the day after Halloween, “Just wait until next year!” In this case it is more along the lines of, “I have a poll! The people love me! You’ll see! Just you wait! You’ll see!” Meanwhile on planet earth, the Republicans continue to chip away at was once a sure thing of keeping control of the House and retaking the Senate.