Government Shutdown: Are the Republicans Gaining the Upper Hand?

In the government shutdown standoff, this morning there is evidence that Republicans are gaining traction in the standoff as far as public opinion goes.

Democrats should be worried.

When this whole standoff began, public opinion was clearly on the side of the Democrats as most people, even those who only casually follow politics, “got it” that the shutdown was the product of the struggles within the Republican party, and that the shutdown was initiated by the Republicans. A CNN poll at the beginning of the shutdown asking who was acting like “spoiled children” produced the following result:

REPUBLICANS — 69%
DEMOCRATS — 58%
PRES. OBAMA — 47%

Now a new poll, also from CNN, asks “with whom are you angry for the shutdown?” — and here are the numbers.

REPUBLICANS — 63%
DEMOCRATS — 57%
PRES. OBAMA — 53%

This reflects the fact that the Republicans getting traction with their messaging point: “The American people want compromise, and we’re willing to compromise – but the President and Dems stubbornly won’t negotiate.”

Those who follow this sort of thing closely know that it’s more complicated than that. They know that the Dems already compromised in various ways — they compromised to get the Affordable Care Act passed, they compromised when Senate Dems accepted a $988B budget that was well below what they wanted — but which Boehner promised was one that would allow him to pass the CR without a shutdown occurring. But now the Dems are being pressed to undertake a new round of compromises with the shutdown in place and “hostages” held.

At the beginning, the Democratic line: “We won’t negotiate at gunpoint,” had traction. But as the shutdown drags on, and the Republicans hammer home “We’re willing to compromise, and the Dems aren’t,” — the pendulum is starting to move.

If the Democrats are serious about maintaining their position, they absolutely have to find a way to be as clear and compelling with their messaging point as to why they refuse to compromise as the Republicans are being clear and compelling with their messaging point that they are the ones being reasonable.

Thus far I don’t see any sign that the Dems “get it”.

This is headed toward negotiations.

The Democrats are being outmessaged.

Again.

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