GOP dismisses polls showing losing battle on shutdown

GOP dismisses polls showing losing battle on shutdown

Congressional Republicans are dismissing a slew of polls showing that Americans blame President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump marks 'very sad milestone' of 100K coronavirus deaths DOJ: George Floyd death investigation a 'top priority' Lifting our voices — and votes MORE and the GOP for the record-long partial government shutdown.

“I don’t think you should legislate on polls,” said Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyTop Republican says Trump greenlit budget fix for VA health care GOP senators not tested for coronavirus before lunch with Trump McConnell, GOP senators support exempting VA health funds from budget caps MORE (R-Ala.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “If we legislated by polls, this country would be in a lot worse shape.”


Survey after survey since Dec. 22, when the funding impasse began, has found voters not only oppose the shutdown, they also point the finger of blame at Trump and Republican lawmakers.

A CBS poll this week found that 71 percent of Americans said the wall does not merit a shutdown, which is now in its 35th day.

By a 16 point margin, voters in a Fox News poll released this week said the shutdown was a more urgent matter than the border situation — 75 percent and 59 percent, respectively, labeled the issues as an emergency or a major problem.

An Associated Press-NORC survey this week found that 60 percent of Americans blamed Trump for the shutdown, roughly twice as many as those who blame Democrats. Even among Republicans, 73 percent said Trump had at least some responsibility for the shutdown and almost a third said he bears the brunt of the blame.

Trump said ahead of the shutdown that he would be “proud” to let funding lapse over the border wall standoff. He has demanded $5.7 billion to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, while Democrats have said they are unwilling to provide such funding.

Trump’s approval rating has fallen from 42 percent to 34 percent during the course of the shutdown, nearing the lows of his presidency, according to AP-NORC polling.


That could be one reason congressional Republicans are less concerned. The Fox news poll found that even as 51 percent blamed Trump and 34 percent blamed Democrats, just 3 percent blamed GOP lawmakers.

“It doesn’t affect me at all. If I were worried about polls, I wouldn’t get up in the morning,” said Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) shortly before the Senate rejected competing bills to reopen the government.

Despite the unpopularity of shutdowns, Republicans point out that the party that gets the blame is seldom punished at the ballot box.

After the December 1995 shutdown that ended in January 1996, heretofore the longest shutdown in U.S. history, Republicans kept their majority in Congress when voters went to the polls in November.

Similarly, Republicans were largely blamed for the 2013 shutdown over ObamaCare, but prevailed in the midterm elections the following year.

And despite Trump successfully labeling last year’s short-lived shutdowns as “Schumer shutdowns,” Democrats took back the House in the most recent midterm elections.

With the next general election 22 months away, politicians may understandably be thinking that the shutdown will not be front and center in voters’ minds come November 2020.

“I don’t like shutdowns, I’ve always been opposed to them, I don’t think they are productive,” said Rep. Tom ColeThomas (Tom) Jeffrey ColeHouse FISA bill suddenly on life support House GOP lawmaker breaks with party to back proxy voting House conservatives voice concerns over minority rights during remote hearings MORE (R-Okla.). “But in this case we’re a long way away from an election.”

But the polling, he said, could be bolstering Democrats.

“I think they think this is working to their political advantage,” he said. “In the short term it may well be, but it’s sure hurting a lot of people so that they can score political points.”

In competing Senate votes to reopen the government Thursday, only one Democrat, Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinDemocratic unity starts to crack in coronavirus liability reform fight Stakes high for Collins in coronavirus relief standoff The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Surgeon General stresses need to invest much more in public health infrastructure, during and after COVID-19; Fauci hopeful vaccine could be deployed in December MORE (W.Va.), voted for the GOP plan, while six Republicans crossed the aisle to support the Democratic plan. Both fell short of the 60-vote threshold needed to advance.

In Congress, members are also more attuned to their own constituents than national ones, Rep. John YarmuthJohn Allen YarmuthRep slams 'vulgar images' and 'racist words' that disrupted virtual youth anti-violence event Unemployment to remain above 9 percent into 2021: CBO Pelosi pushes to unite party on coronavirus bill despite grumbling from left MORE (D-Ky.) said.

While a CBS poll may show 71 percent of respondents oppose a wall-focused shutdown, he said, “in a lot of congressional districts that’s not the percentage.”

“The problem is, all of us live to a certain extent in a bubble. And we hear from our people who say, ‘Don’t build a wall under any circumstance,’ and Republicans are hearing from the other side, so nobody is getting a real accurate reflection of where people are,” he added.

Democrats may be betting that the sheer magnitude and disruptive nature of the shutdown may leave a more lasting impression than previous ones. With their recent election success and polls in their favor, Democrats have few incentives to give ground.

“If that’s the case then we’re in for an extended, long-term shutdown,” said Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsTrump to return to Florida for rescheduled SpaceX launch Pence names new press secretary House leaders take vote-counting operations online MORE (R-N.C.), a close Trump ally.