A plurality of the Democratic Members surveyed gave the nod to Boehner, while, not surprisingly, almost all of the Speaker's troops thought that he had come out ahead in his high-stakes bargaining with the President. Judging from the comments of GOP Members, Boehner's stock seems like it could hardly be higher among his fellow Republicans. "He was incredible," said one GOP Congressional Insider. "Kept his cool, kept the majority of his conference together, kept pushing the envelope." Gushed another Republican, "Boehner was the 'Clinton' of this government shutdown crisis--the central figure and clear winner."
At the same time, some Democratic Members were not impressed with how the President handled the negotiations over the CR. "Boehner's probably asking himself how much more he could have gotten if he started at an even higher level of cuts, given Obama's unwillingness to stand up to Republican bullying tactics," observed one Democratic Congressional Insider.
But others were not so sure how big a victory the Speaker won. "Boehner will take his lumps from tea party members who were cheering for a shutdown," said another Democratic Congressional Insider. Roughly a quarter of the Democrats thought neither of their leaders had much to crow about. "No one 'wins' when our country looks so foolish," said a Democratic Congressional Insider. "Just a game of male media chicken; the public is tired of it," added another.
Indeed, the public doesn't look at the CR showdown the way Congressional Insiders do. In a USA Today/Gallup Poll conducted on April 11, 56 percent of those surveyed said that the CR deal " was not a victory for either side." Only eight percent said it was a victory for Republicans while five percent said it was a win for Democrats. One-fifth of those polled said both parties could claim victory. The random sample of the poll was 1,004 adults with a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.
And with the stronger stance against GOP budget proposals that the President showed in his speech on Wednesday, Democratic Members who thought he gave away too much in the CR deal may now be a bit more reassured over Obama's resolve. He'll have plenty of opportunities to prove it to his fellow Democrats as the budget fight continues in the coming months.
The National Journal Congressional Insiders Poll is a regular survey of Democratic and Republican members of Congress.