Thursday, October 10, 2013

Tell me again who is "winning" this thing

The Shutdown saga is not about who is "winning and losing" in opinion polls even though, the Republicans are undoubtedly losing there.
Since the shutdown began, and more intensely since initial polling data on the shutdown became available, horse-race junkies have been weighing in on whether it will endanger the GOP’s adamantine House majority. The 2010 gerrymander fortified Republican control of the House against a 7 percentage point loss in the national popular vote. Could the shutdown swing the polling so dramatically?

Polling experts at first said, “Dream on.” If House Democrats only won the national popular vote by 1.5 percent in 2012, it would take more than a GOP shutdown to quintuple that margin in a midterm, base turnout election.

On Tuesday, Princeton’s Sam Wang offered a statistical counterpoint, and Greg Sargent, courtesy of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, provided anecdotal evidence that the shutdown will help Democrats recruit competitive candidates in tough GOP-held districts.

I’ll leave polling analysis to the statisticians and campaigning to the parties.

But I would argue that beyond the midterms, the shutdown will be unusually problematic for Republicans as a national party. Earlier this year, when the party reached a crossroads between becoming a more ethnically inclusive, moderate party, and doubling down on its whites-only strategy, it chose the latter. This shutdown fight, intentionally or otherwise stands to rupture the white-white coalition.
I recommend you read through Sargent's and Wang's stuff. There are some worthwhile insights. Wang does indeed point toward the statistical possibility of a Democratic takeover of the House (given today's polling data) but he doesn't mean to imply that this is actually what's going to happen.  
If the election were held today, Democrats would pick up around 30 seats, giving them control of the chamber. I do not expect this to happen. Many things will happen in the coming 12 months, and the current crisis might be a distant memory. But at this point I do expect Democrats to pick up seats next year, an exception to the midterm rule.
Regardless of whether the GOP is in serious danger in the House, (I still think they probably are not) the majority of the hard-line faction isn't going anywhere.  Or at least they believe they are safe which has the same effect on their behavior now.

But, more to the point, the GOP strategy isn't to simply "win" the polling over the shutdown crisis.  Remember they created the shutdown on purpose and in full expectation that they would meet with a degree of public disapproval for having done so.  If they don't believe that present disapproval will translate into electoral defeat (and most hardliners reasonably do not believe it will) then it isn't a problem in the long run.

What they are trying to win is the same package of stuff they're always trying to win.  That means cuts in things that poor to middle class Americans need and like such as Social Security and Medicare 
I was just listening to Wolf Blitzer explain that Republicans realize they're getting killed in the world of public opinion but keeping the government closed and threatening a debt default. But they're worried, he explains, that if they open the government and take the debt default off the table they'll lose a lot of their leverage to force things like repealing Obamacare, cutting Social Security, Medicare and other similar stuff.
Here's a concise description of "other similar stuff."  It's the same stuff they're always concerned about.  The reason we're having this "crisis" in the first place is because the most recent electoral results do not provide the Republicans with the tools to enact their agenda.

But Republicans are well funded, resourceful, and pretty damn good at sticking to that agenda regardless of the circumstances.  And the second that the Democrats agree to "sit down and talk" (which I'm thinking the odds are pretty good that they will) they will have rewarded them for behaving this way.

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