The Pure Logic Behind the Heritage Action Obamacare Push Poll

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Aug. 14 2013 6:37 PM

The Pure Logic Behind the Heritage Action Obamacare Push Poll

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Silly right-wing think tanks, with their silly polls.

Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Heritage Action for America is one of the stronger organizations campaigning for Republicans to refuse to fund Obamacare in the next CR. Most polling suggests that a "government shutdown" is unpopular, and that defunding Obamacare is almost as unpopular. The solution: a poll that asks mostly Republican voters about a possible shutdown in the most-message-friendly manner possible!

IN ORDER TO GET PRESIDENT OBAMA TO AGREE TO AT LEAST HAVE A "TIME OUT" ON IMPLEMENTING THE HEALTH CARE LAW AND ITS FULL EFFECTS, WOULD YOU APPROVE OR DISAPPROVE OF A TEMPORARY SLOWDOWN IN NON-ESSENTIAL FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS, WHICH STILL LEFT ALL ESSENTIAL GOVERNMENT SERVICES RUNNING?
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Who could possibly be against that? In this poll respondents support the idea of a totally painless shutdown for a cause they support by a 2–1 margin, and by a smaller margin they support defunding the law somehow. And as Alex Seitz-Wald pointed out first, the districts targeted by the poll—denoted in the cross tabs as "60 percent Republican, 40 percent Democrat"—are actually incredibly skewed toward the GOP.

How skewed? Well, the four Democratic districts all voted heavily for Mitt Romney over Barack Obama; three of them, in Georgia, Utah, and North Carolina, were actually gerrymandered in 2011, making them harder for Democrats to hold on to.

What, then, is the point of this poll? I think that's obvious. No Republican is telling his base that he wants to keep Obamacare in place. The holdouts, typically those who think it'd be wiser to delay the mandates and kill the law later, are saying that a shutdown would hurt the party. Heritage Action is attempting to prove that a well-messaged Obamacare war would not only be a boon to them in their districts—it would scare a few Democrats in seats they should have lost already. That's much more useful than some national poll of the whole country, which mostly voted for Barack Obama.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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