The Republicans are winning the fight over the government shut down. This, at any rate, is the conclusion that must be drawn from both the latest Associated Press poll as well as the terms in which it is described.
The headline of the AP article is: “Poll: GOP gets the blame in shutdown.”Yet in the very first paragraph, the very first line, it is said that while Republicans are being held as “primarily responsible” for the (partial) shutdown, “public esteem” has soured on every player in this “struggle with no heroes.”
In the following paragraph, we are told that, just as in 1996, Republicans “may end up taking the biggest hit” from this standoff.Immediately afterwards, however, the piece states that nine days into the shutdown matters are “fluid,” with “plenty of disdain to go around.”
One would think that if the GOP was really faring all that badly, then the AP shouldn’t have had any problem mustering up quotations from any number of people who would’ve been eager to have spoken to that effect. Yet the only two people that it quotes are Martha Blair, an “independent,” and Barbara Olpinski, a self-identified Republican. Both explicitly blame Democrats as well as Republicans for the current situation.
“Asked if she blamed Obama, House Republicans, Senate Democrats, or the tea party for the shut down,” the article reads, “Blair…said yes, you bet. All of them.”Olpinski is quoted as saying: “People don’t know how they are going to pay for things, and what will be covered.” She adds: “Everybody is kind of like holding their wallets.”
Another interesting tidbit to be gotten from this poll is that Ted Cruz—you know, the Texas Senator whose 21-plus hour charge to defund Obamacare was supposed to have done permanent damage to the Republican brand—scarcely even registers with those polled: most Americans, supposedly, aren’t aware of who he is.
The poll also informs us that in spite of Obama’s promises that Doomsday will descend upon the world if Congress fails to raise the debt limit, less than one out of every three Americans favor raising it.
The President’s characteristic fear mongering is failing him.
As for the Tea Party, the AP has just now learned from its own poll that it is not the “gang of malcontents” that has been “portrayed by Democrats.” Instead, “it’s a sizable—and divisive—force among Republicans.”Moreover, “4 out of 10 Republicans identified with the Tea Party [.]”
The most interesting thing about this poll—a poll, let’s not forget, that the AP is promoting to establish that the GOP is losing the public relations war vis-à-vis the shutdown—is what it reveals about the politically perilous condition of Democrats.
The Republicans were blamed overwhelmingly for the shutdown of ’96.That state of affairs isn’t even close to being replicated today.
First, consider that the very poll that the AP seeks to use against the GOP reveals that Congress—the Democrat-controlled Congress—has a historically unprecedented low approval rating of five percent.
Secondly, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid has an approval rating that is no higher than that of House Majority leader John Boehner.Considering that most people continue to derive their (mis)information from the overwhelmingly Democratic-friendly “mainstream” press, this is quite remarkable, for even in the midst of an unpopular so-called “shutdown”—a shutdown for which, allegedly, Republicans are held to be “primarily” responsible—a lackluster Republican like Boehner fares no worse among the public than one of the country’s leading Democrats.
Third and most significantly, Obama’s approval rating is at an all-time low.Only 37 percent of Americans approve of his job performance, versus 53 percent of Americans who disapprove of it.
This is staggering.
Whether the Republicans persist in holding the line against Obama and his party is left to be seen.The skeptic in me is doubtful.But if this AP poll suggests anything, it is that the GOP is winning.
Jack Kerwick received his doctoral degree in philosophy from Temple University. His area of specialization is ethics and political philosophy. He is a professor of philosophy at several colleges and universities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Jack blogs at Beliefnet.com: At the Intersection of Faith & Culture. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or friend him on facebook. You can also follow him on twitter.