Poll: Don’t Shut Down the Government Over Obamacare

Democrats also hold a significant lead on the generic ballot, a new survey shows.

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 30: U.S. House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks as (L-R) Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Assistant House Minority Leader Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), House Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY), House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA), and House Minority Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) listen during a news conference September 30, 2013 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The U.S. government was officially shut down at midnight after the Senate and the House of the Representatives failed to come to an agreement to pass a federal spending bill to keep the government running.
National Journal
Steven Shepard
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Steven Shepard
Oct. 1, 2013, 2:06 a.m.

A new Quin­nipi­ac Uni­versity poll re­leased on Tues­day shows voters over­whelm­ingly op­pose Con­gress shut­ting down the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment as a way to stop the 2010 health care law from be­ing im­ple­men­ted, match­ing oth­er pub­lic polling that shows that Demo­crats enter the shut­down with the up­per hand.

The Quin­nipi­ac poll also shows Demo­crats with a 9-point lead on the 2014 House gen­er­ic bal­lot — a his­tor­ic­ally wide edge, des­pite the struc­tur­al ad­vant­ages that make a Demo­crat­ic takeover of the House un­likely.

Over­all, the poll shows voters are split on the health care law: 45 per­cent sup­port it, while 47 per­cent op­pose it. Oth­er polls have shown stronger op­pos­i­tion to the law, however.

But des­pite their over­all am­bi­val­ence to­ward the law, voters op­pose ef­forts to de­fund it. Just 34 per­cent think Con­gress should cut off fund­ing, and sup­port is even lower when those de­fund­ing ef­forts are tied to a gov­ern­ment shut­down (22 per­cent) or rais­ing the debt lim­it (27 per­cent). A wide ma­jor­ity, 72 per­cent, op­pose shut­ting down the gov­ern­ment to cut off fund­ing the health care law.

That is con­sist­ent with oth­er pub­lic sur­veys, in­clud­ing our United Tech­no­lo­gies/Na­tion­al Journ­al Con­gres­sion­al Con­nec­tion Poll, which have shown Amer­ic­ans op­posed to the Re­pub­lic­an strategy of al­low­ing the gov­ern­ment to shut down if the health care law was not de­fun­ded or rolled back, even if they op­pose the law it­self.

Look­ing ahead to the 2014 elec­tions, Demo­crats lead Re­pub­lic­ans on the gen­er­ic bal­lot, the poll shows, 43 per­cent to 34 per­cent. Four per­cent of re­gistered voters say they prefer someone else, 2 per­cent wouldn’t vote, and 17 per­cent are un­de­cided.

The 9-point ad­vant­age is the largest Quin­nipi­ac has meas­ured since the spring of 2009, in the first months of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion. The yawn­ing lead isn’t that in­con­sist­ent with oth­er Quin­nipi­ac sur­veys con­duc­ted this year: In two Ju­ly sur­veys, for ex­ample, Demo­crats held 4- and 5-point leads.

Des­pite the Demo­crat­ic ad­vant­age on this ques­tion, GOP re­ten­tion of the House seems likely at this stage. The gen­er­ic bal­lot has over­stated Demo­crat­ic sup­port in the past, and the Quin­nipi­ac poll is a sur­vey of all re­gistered voters, many of whom won’t cast bal­lots in a midterm elec­tion.

The 2014 elec­tions will also be con­tested on a dif­fer­ent play­ing field. Re­pub­lic­ans en­joy a struc­tur­al ad­vant­age fol­low­ing the dec­ade’s re­dis­trict­ing pro­cesses, and, in the Sen­ate, Demo­crats have more vul­ner­able mem­bers up this cycle. And though the 1995-96 shut­down is widely at­trib­uted to then-Pres­id­ent Bill Clin­ton’s reelec­tion, Demo­crats only picked up two seats in the House — and lost two Sen­ate seats — fol­low­ing the 1996 elec­tions.

Oth­er data show that Demo­crats’ suc­cess on the gen­er­ic bal­lot is more at­trib­ut­able to a col­lapsing GOP brand than im­prov­ing im­ages of Demo­crats and their stand­ard-bear­er, Pres­id­ent Obama. Quin­nipi­ac finds Obama’s ap­prov­al rat­ing is net-neg­at­ive: 45 per­cent ap­prove, and 49 per­cent dis­ap­prove. And con­gres­sion­al Demo­crats earn a 32-per­cent ap­prov­al rat­ing, while three-in-five voters dis­ap­prove.

But Re­pub­lic­ans in Con­gress have hit a re­cord low, the poll shows. Only 17 per­cent of voters ap­prove of the way GOP mem­bers of Con­gress are hand­ling their jobs, while a whop­ping 74 per­cent dis­ap­prove. Among in­de­pend­ents, only 13 per­cent ap­prove, com­pared to 76 per­cent who dis­ap­prove.

The Quin­nipi­ac Uni­versity poll was con­duc­ted Sept. 23-29, sur­vey­ing 1,497 re­gistered voters. The mar­gin of er­ror is plus-or-minus 2.5 per­cent­age points.

Oth­er polls re­leased this week back up the col­lapse of the GOP brand. The party’s over­all fa­vor­able rat­ing in a new CNN/ORC In­ter­na­tion­al poll is 32 per­cent, a re­cord low. Only 26 per­cent ap­prove of the way Re­pub­lic­ans in Con­gress are hand­ling the budget talks in a new ABC News/Wash­ing­ton Post poll.

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