Republicans seem to have been spooked by three recent polls suggesting that the American public is siding more with President Obama than with the GOP in the budget and/or debt-ceiling battles. But neither poll asked what is perhaps the key question: Do you know what the Republicans’ position actually is?
The guess here is that, if that question had been asked, it would have shown that the vast majority of Americans have no idea what Republicans are holding out for, or on what terms they are willing to end the (very partial) government shutdown—or, for that matter, raise the debt ceiling. The further guess is that most who do claim to know the Republican position would likely state it erroneously, thinking that Republicans are either demanding the repeal of Obamacare (which is how many Democrats have disingenuously characterized the GOP position) or the defunding of Obamacare (not the current GOP position). This, in turn, points to the real problem: Republicans are failing to communicate, and to reiterate, their quite reasonable, quite moderate position to the American people.
The following poll question likely would have yielded very different results:
House Republicans have passed a budget to fund the federal government, delay the health law’s individual mandate for one year, and overturn what they say is a lawless and unfair exception to the health law for Congress. Senate Democrats and President Obama have rejected the Republican budget because they oppose its 1-year delay of the individual mandate and because they say the health law’s treatment of Congress is lawful and fair. Whose position do you favor?
The Republicans are poised for victory in this battle, but only if they’ll start pressing their case.