Posted Tuesday, April 12, 2011, at 8:27 AM
I said before and after a deal was cut on the budget that Republicans would benefit if some agreement was hammered out. Past was prologue, and most people expected them to be at fault for shutting down the government -- despite months of effective GOP messaging, chiding the media for having the audacity to read back quotes from Mike Pence and Lynn Westmoreland .
CNN's poll contradicts that, but only somewhat. Before Friday, 37 percent of voters were saying they'd blame Republicans if the government shut down, and 40 percent were saying they'd blame Obama or Democrats. Now:
So the Democrats mostly won, according to CNN. They might have won less in the long run than they would have if Republicans had followed the script and shut down the government. But on balance, a good day for Democrats... unless you look at Pew, which finds that the country didn't know why the hell the government came to the brink of collapse.*
Solid majorities say all four principal players – GOP leaders, Democratic leaders, Obama and Tea Party-affiliated representatives – deserve at least some blame for the budget dispute. Much smaller percentages say each deserves no blame: 23% Tea Party representatives; 22% Obama; 12% GOP leaders; and 11% Democratic leaders.
Opinions about how much blame the participants deserve changed after the agreement was concluded. In interviewing conducted prior to the deal (April 7-8), 58% said that Tea Party representatives would deserve either a lot or some blame if the government shut down. In polling conducted April 9-10, the number saying Tea Party representatives deserve a least some blame for the dispute jumped to 72%.
More also blamed Obama and Democratic leaders after the agreement than before it. In early interviewing, 66% said that Obama would deserve at least some blame for a possible government shutdown; after the agreement 79% expressed that view. Blame for Democratic leaders rose 10 points (from 77% to 87%) after the budget deal.
No one gets political capital from the deal, but the GOP doesn't lose any more than the Democrats do. That's important because of what the fight was about -- a consensus that the government needed to agree to austerity measures.
This Pew result deserves more attention, too:
*I know, not really, but you should watch TV news sometimes.