New NJ/UTT poll shows … pretty much what Pew and CNBC did

posted at 8:41 am on September 24, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Yesterday, Allahpundit joked that he finally got a chance to be the cheerier optimist with the Pew poll on the fight over a possible government shutdown — only to find that the numbers were slightly worse for Republicans than in the earlier CNBC poll.  A third poll out this morning deals with the ObamaCare issue more directly than Pew but finds the same mindset in the electorate.  The National Journal/UTT poll shows a 63% majority opposed to cutting off funding to block ObamaCare, and even Republicans oppose it 42/51:

An overwhelming majority of Americans prefer the Senate’s approach to the government-funding negotiations: 63 percent said Congress should “provide the funding to keep the government operating and deal with the health care issue separately.” Only 27 percent said “only fund the continuing operations of the federal government if Obama agrees to delay or withdraw his health care plan.”Even Republicans are skeptical of the House GOP’s approach. A majority, 51 percent, said Congress should keep the two issues separate, while 42 percent said a continuing resolution should be passed only if Obama agrees to defund the health care law.

In fact, only one demographic within the Republican base actually favors this approach — and only barely outside the margin of error:

Notably, only one subset of Republican-leaning groups was inclined to push for the dissolution of Obamacare. White men without a college degree said they preferred to hold up government funding, 49 percent to 44 percent. Every other Republican group disagreed, and disagreed enormously. White men with a college degree, for example, preferred keeping the issues separate by a margin of 66 percent to 31 percent, a 40-point swing from their blue-collar brethren. More than 60 percent of white women, both those with and without a degree, wanted to deal with Obamacare later.

NJ has a chart outlining the rest of the demographic findings.  Majorities oppose it in all major demos; the 42/51 among Republicans is by far the most sympathetic finding.  Independents oppose it 30/61, men 34/58, females 21/68, and opposition runs over 60% no matter the education level. It doesn’t improve much when trying to tie defunding to the debt ceiling, either:

Opposition to linking Obamacare with debt-ceiling talks is less severe, but nonetheless potent. A majority, 52 percent, say “increase the U.S. debt limit and deal with the health care issue separately,” while 31 percent say “only increase the debt limit if Obama agrees to delay or withdraw his health care plan.”

By a margin of 48 percent to 33 percent, Republicans say they should hold out on the debt-ceiling until Obama rescinds the health care law. The plurality indicates a more congruous, if still far from united, front within the GOP. That explains why many GOP strategists think a fight over the debt ceiling is smarter than one over government funding.

But independents are more hostile to the idea—51 percent of them want to wall off the Affordable Care Act from the debt ceiling, and only 33 percent say the two measures should be linked. For their part, 68 percent of Democrats want to keep them separate.

That’s a clean sweep, and that’s a problem for Ted Cruz.  Cruz’ explicitly-expressed strategy relies on generating overwhelming public sentiment to force Democrats in the Senate, and so overwhelming that it will scare Barack Obama off from vetoing a bill that would (theoretically only) defund his signature achievement.  He’s not losing ground, but he’s not making up any ground either.  Voters in his own party aren’t sold on this tactic, let alone the broader electorate.  And there isn’t much time left for Cruz to make the sale, either.

The GOP does get one piece of good news from the NJ/UTT poll, which is that Obama will get as much of the blame as Republicans in a government shutdown.  Pew got roughly the same result.  But that’s not the same as stopping the exchanges and subsidies, and two empty losses won’t make one victory for Republicans next year.

Update: Glenn Reynolds argues that there won’t be a shutdown unless Barack Obama vetoes the budget, but that’s not really the case.  If Democrats refuse to pass a budget in the Senate with defunding language in it, and House Republicans refuse to pass a budget without it, then we get a shutdown without Obama having anything directly to do with it.  That’s why Cruz argued that his crusade would produce the huge momentum against the Democrats, because that was the only way they would surrender their position on defunding.  As these three polls show very clearly, Democrats have no reason to surrender to Cruz on this point, with overwhelming public support for their position.  Had we fought for delaying language rather than defunding, we might have been in a somewhat better negotiating position right now.


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