If so, clue me in. Three different polls published today show Republicans (meaning Trump plus the congressional GOP) getting the lion’s share of the blame if the government shuts down. Quinnipiac has them leading the blame game 53/34; WaPo has it 48/28; and in a new survey published this afternoon, CNN has it 47/31. The consistency among those three sets of numbers is striking.
So tell me, what’s Schumer’s incentive to fold? If he caves and takes the GOP’s offer of funding the government short-term and CHIP long-term, the amnesty fanatics will destroy him for not standing his ground to protect DREAMers. The whole reason we’re in the position we’re in right now is because he’s afraid to do that. Meanwhile, if he plays hardball and holds out, all sorts of positive things from the Democratic perspective begin to happen. The public will turn on the GOP — assuming the polls are correct — and pro- and anti-amnesty Republicans will turn on each other. A president whose job approval is already historically low in the year of a midterm election may have it turn even more sour, risking a Democratic tidal wave in November. The GOP’s strongest political talking point, the state of the economy, could also be imperiled if the shutdown drags on and hiring begins to slow down, the market falls off, and so on.
From the Schumer perspective, a nice, weeklong shutdown would seem to be a very good thing. Even if he ends up caving in the end by agreeing to a clean CR in the name of turning the federal lights back on, he can tell DREAMers that he fought the good fight, proved his solidarity with their cause, and will push a DREAM amnesty as the first order of business in the Senate after the government is funded. And if McConnell won’t go along, and somehow DREAM remains unresolved before the midterms? Great! That’s turnout motivation for angry Democratic amnesty fans. Not only that, but because Trump has said he’ll end Obama’s DACA program in March, suddenly the White House would have an excruciating decision on whether to follow through on that pledge or to cave in order to keep legal status in effect for DACA enrollees. Schumer has no reason to end this thing today. He’s holding all the cards.
Well, most of the cards. There is this small matter, also from the CNN poll. Americans love the idea of letting DACA enrollees stay, approving of that in numbers well above supermajority levels. But what about *shutting down the government* to make it happen? What’s more important, legal status for DREAMers or keeping the government funded?
Overwhelmingly Republicans say it’s funding the government. Independents strongly agree. And Democrats are surprisingly divided. In those numbers you can see the makings of the GOP message to come if in fact we land in Shutdownsville tonight: “We want to do right by DREAMers but we can’t find agreement on the precise terms right now. Restoring government services is more important than anything else at the moment.” Many voters will agree. Eventually, I assume, Trump and McConnell will push a clean funding bill if only to make Schumer’s position harder. Given a straight choice between funding the government or keeping the lights off to try to gain leverage for DREAM, is he really going to go to the mat and say “keep them off”? The more Republicans sharpen the issue to make the Democrats’ insistence on dealing with DREAM right now the sole stumbling block to a compromise, the tougher Schumer’s predicament is. He has the advantage here but it’s not quite absolute. And the longer this goes on, the more it’ll shrink.