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Rob Horowitz: Government Shutdown A Disaster for House Republicans

Tuesday, October 08, 2013


House Republicans are facing dire consequences for the government shutdown...will House Speaker Boehner stop the madness?

As predicted by strategists on both sides of the political aisle, the government shutdown now entering its second week is shaping up as an unmitigated political disaster for House Republicans. 

An overwhelming 72% of Americans disapprove of shutting down the federal government over differences on the Affordable Care Act, while only 25% approve, according to a CBS News Poll conducted after the shutdown began last week. Even a solid majority of Americans opposed to Obamacare disapprove of the shutdown, with 59% of this sub-group indicating disapproval as opposed to 38% whom approve. Other polls taken last week including the FOX Poll found similar results.

Republicans in trouble

Similarly, President Obama’s approval ratings are holding steady so far, while House Republicans are dropping. Not surprisingly, more people blame the House Republicans than the President for the stand-off. And polls conducted over the weekend by PPP for the liberal group Moveon.org, show major movement towards Democratic candidates in key House swing districts throughout the nation—more than sufficient movement to put the House Republican majority at risk.

As reported by Business Insider, Professor and noted political analyst, Larry Sabato said last week that Oct. 1—the first day of the shutdown—was the "the best day for Democrats in the U.S. House this cycle." Sabato went on to say, "Simply put, there’s no reason why the House should be in play this cycle, and if it is in play the Republicans will have only themselves to blame."

Step up, Boehner

As the costs and inconvenience of the shutdown to people in all walks of life begin to set in, this potentially dire political situation is only going to get worse. To avoid long-term and lasting damage, the House Republicans need to end this fiasco soon. Judging by his "private" comments, which he has ensured are periodically leaked by his allies and staff to major news organizations, Speaker Boehner recognizes the policy and political gravity of the shutdown problem and is even more worried about the nearing deadline for raising the debt ceiling. He knows how disastrous a failure to adopt a debt ceiling increase—triggering a default on US debt—could be.

It is time for the Speaker to back up his "private" comments with decisive public action. Anything less risks his Congressional Majority and much more importantly, the economic well-being and world standing of the United States.


Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island.


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