After roughly three days of painfully visible dysfunction, the United States government officially reopened Monday after Senate Democrats acquiesced to a short-term spending resolution that continues to kick the can down the road until early February. It comes as a blow for Democrats, especially Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who’s overt linkage of the shutdown to the party’s efforts on DACA could only render the end result (“promises” to address the issue in the next few weeks without any visible concessions) a blistering failure. Some, such as Fox commentator Liz Peek, suggests that this will blow back in their faces and diminish any “wave” that may transpire in November.
I’d hold off on such declarations. The GOP definitely scored a win here (insofar that a shutdown can be gamified), but they can absolutely still lose in November.
It initially appeared that Democrats were going to come out on top in the PR battle. As I mentioned in a YouTube video on the topic, #TrumpShutdown was garnering way more usage than #SchumerShutdown and pre-shutdown polling showed that most people would blame President Trump and the GOP over the Democrats. However, the latest polling shows that, while the Democrat’s efforts to blame the President were fairly effective (38% of people blamed him), a statistically indistinguishable percentage of people also blamed them. The GOP was actually relatively well insulated; only 18% of respondents pin the blame on them for the fiasco. So one could be forgiven for thinking that the party is well-poised to maintain their hold on the legislature later this year.
But there’s a pretty big gap between blaming Democrats and voting Republican. The fallout hasn’t finished agglomerating, but Democrats actually haven’t lost much ground in the generic ballot races. And it’s also not very clear just how costly a shutdown actually is for the party seen as responsible. A whopping 53% of people blamed the GOP for our last shutdown but the party gained seats in the House and Senate by the time the midterms rolled around. The people casting the blame could easily forget at the drop of another controversial Tweet.
The wave is still very much in play.