I assume the White House’s internal polling looks like this too. After months of teasing immigration activists with legalization by kingly decree by the end of summer, they wouldn’t be backing off now unless the numbers looked too dismal to defy before the midterms.

According to the latest IBD/TIPP poll, 73% of the public say Obama should work with Congress on reforms. Just 22% say he should “sidestep Congress and act on his own using executive orders” β€” something the president has repeatedly pledged to do…

Another trouble sign for Obama: The age group most fervently opposed to him on immigration is the young voters he has successfully courted in the past. Fully 80% of those age 18 to 24 want him to work with Congress on reform, and just 15% side with Obama’s plan to bypass Congress if they fail to act…

When asked more specifically about an executive order to “slow deportation of undocumented immigrants by providing them with legal protection and work permits,” 63% of all those polled say they oppose Obama’s issuing such an order, with a majority of Republicans and independents strongly opposed. Just 34% of the public backs that move, though that includes 60% of Democrats.

Last year support for comprehensive immigration reform stood at 54 percent, with just 39 percent support for securing the border. Now the first number is down to 48 percent while the second stands at 47. A border crisis will do that for you.

As for the numbers above, don’t read overly much into the fact that a big majority wants O to work with Congress on immigration. I think most people, when put on the spot with a question about cooperation, instinctively say yes. That’s the civic paradigm of democratic government, after all — different parties and different branches working together to find a mutually agreeable solution. The response here thus has less to do with the particulars of immigration, I suspect, than with some intellectual reflex that “cooperation is good.” The more salient question is the one about the executive order. In theory, wanting Obama to work with Congress doesn’t necessarily mean opposing executive action: It could have been that some critical mass preferred the former but were willing to accept the latter as a stopgap measure in the meantime. (That’s basically Obama’s own position on all this.) The question on the executive order proves that’s not true, though. Obama is solidly underwater when people are given a square thumbs up/thumbs down choice on what he wants to do. And in fairness to the “work with Congress” question, that’s an awfully big majority among O’s base of young adults. You shouldn’t be seeing numbers like that, especially among a group that’s sympathetic to O, if the White House was succeeding with its message that Obama has no choice but to do something unilateral because the damned Republicans are forever obstructing him.

And this is why, of course, Democrats have been pushing the “Republican shutdown!” meme so hard over the last week. Mickey Kaus is exactly right: That idea was almost certainly fed to sympathetic media by pro-amnesty Dems because they knew Obama was getting cold feet on doing something before the midterms. The shutdown scare was their last-gasp bid to bait the GOP into giving O a reason to fast-track amnesty. If it had originated among Republicans, notes Becket Adams, there would have been a long messaging build-up from the GOP itself to try to make the idea of a new shutdown over immigration more tolerable to the public. There wasn’t one. At this late date, there’s only one man on the Hill with enough juice to get the right buzzing about a shutdown now — and as you’re about to see, he himself is careful to point out that the only people talking about a shutdown are in the White House. The Democrats’ last gasp failed, so Obama has backed off. For now.