At 12:01 am eastern time today, the Republicans forced the federal government to shut down, causing national parks to close, crippling medical research and the CDC's ability to respond to disease outbreaks, and shutting down employers' ability to verify a prospective employee's work eligibility, among other things. They did this in an insane last ditch, cynical attempt to undo health care reform, which took effect this morning anyway.
But while Republicans have utterly failed in their attempt to deny health care to 30 million people and to repeal already-in-effect protections for those who have insurance despite taking the government's funding hostage, a different hostage crisis is happening inside the GOP. The Tea Party has taken the Republican party hostage, and the GOP's continual display of Stockholm Syndrome seems to finally be costing them dearly in the public eye. The self-inflicted wound from the Republicans over a job as simple as keeping the government funded has given Democrats a 9-point advantage in 2014's generic House ballot, according to a just-released Quinnipiac poll.
The poll showed that voters gave the nod to a generic Democrat over a generic Republican ahead of the 2014 congressional races, 43 percent to 34 percent. According to Quinnipiac, that's the widest advantage enjoyed by Democrats on that particular question.That 9-point lead, incidentally, is just a tad above what Democrats will need to take over the House in the aftermath of severe Republican gerrymandering in 2011.
It is clear from the Quinnipiac poll that the wide lead for Democrats and the free-fall of the GOP is largely the result of the Republican government shutdown attempts (and now, the Republican government shutdown reality). Americans oppose shutting down the government over the Affordable Care Act by a stunning 50-point margin (72-22 percent), and oppose defaulting the United States over Obamacare by a near 40-point margin. The gap has only widened as Republicans have brought us closer and closer to a shutdown, pushing us over this morning.
On issues that matter most, voters trust the president over Republicans, and in many cases by a wide margin.
63 - 26 percent on helping low income families;On the middle class, on helping the poor, on economic and health care issues - the most pressing issues of our day, President Obama has the backing of the American people, who are overwhelmingly opposed to Republican Tea Party philosophy of extortion just to do their job. Along with that, Tea Party "membership" is at a historic low, with just 12% of Americans considering themselves part of the Tea Party machine.
51 - 38 percent on helping the middle class;
47 - 38 percent on handling health care;
47 - 42 percent on handling the economy.
It is true that the American people are frustrated with our government in general, but they also know that Republicans demands of ransom just to keep the government running or to pay our bills just because they don't like something that is already law is bizarre and downright unpatriotic.
It's not as though Republicans did not know this would happen. Plenty of Republicans - inside and outside of Congress - have been warning that voters will put the blame where it belongs in case of a government shutdown - on the GOP's strategy to govern by continuous crisis. But even knowing that, Republicans have chosen to prefer their Tea Party fringe over the business of the country - and they may have finally broken the camel's back. We will not forget this come 2014, and we will not forget that they tried to take away near-universal health care, which will by then be in full swing.
Politically, few things can be as good for Democrats as the Republicans holding hostage government funding or the full faith and credit of the Untied States in a failed attempt to deny health care to millions of Americans. Fortunately unlike with Republicans, "country first" is not just a campaigns slogan for Democrats. The president, even today, stands ready to negotiate over the budget and improve health reform with any honest proposal. But Republicans will not be allowed to hold a gun to America's head and demand ransom in exchange for doing their job.