Whatever the immediate political fallout, a protracted struggle is unlikely to make Trump budge. Twitchy Democrats will be more sensitive to public opinion than Trump will be. If the public feels unnecessarily inconvenienced by yet another round of partisan gridlock, Democrats are likely to buckle.
Trump is also seeding the ground with pre-emptive messaging that blames Democrats for any shutdown. Much of what he says is, as usual, factually challenged—falsely claiming Democrats are demanding “amnesty for all,” not just DACA, and military cuts, when Democrats have asked for a joint increase in military and nonmilitary spending. And Democrats aren’t making the mistake Gingrich made in 1995 by discussing the prospect of shutdown with mischievous glee.
But the fact is the Republicans are not the ones yoking DACA to keeping the government open. Democrats are. Trump is responsible for putting DACA in limbo, but he will be on solid ground claiming Democrats caused the shutdown, and could end it at any time. The country is polarized enough that Democrats probably wouldn’t shoulder all of the perceived blame. But as the instigators, it will hard to avoid taking a large portion of the blame.