Meet the Shutdown Republicans. There's a Lot of Them!

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 11 2013 11:39 AM

Meet the Shutdown Republicans. There's a Lot of Them!

After reading too many lists and listicles and charts and "insider" scoops about how many Republicans really "caused the shutdown," I decided to try my hand at creating my own. The idea that only 20-30 Republicans are forcing John Boehner's hand anymore is a little too pat, a little too reliant on the idea that Boehner can fix this if he he mans up. There are really closer to 100 Republicans who will take every chance to go on the record for defunding Obamacare, more than that who will oppose a debt limit deal that doesn't get what they want. There are really only a dozen will oppose everything, but that doesn't mean there's only a small group of hold-outs who need to be won over.

With that in mind, I think Sean Trende's attempt to debunk the gerrymanding-influenced-the-shutdown-strategy theory is the best/only good one so far. "If every member hailed from an even-PVI district," he writes, "there would probably be no government shutdown. It is also reasonably clear that the GOP gained some advantages from redistricting; it 'won' redistricting, to my mind, by pushing the median district further to the right."

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Well, yes, that's all I've been saying! It's not like gerrymandering created Justin Amash. It shored up Tim Walberg. Who's Tim Walberg? He was a Club for Growth-backed candidate who primaried a moderate Republican in 2006, lost in the 2008 Democratic wave, came back in 2010, and benefitted when the new GOP legislature drew a map that packed Democrats in Detroit and Flint-centric districts, shoring him up to make no news but provide reliable "no" votes on anything that did not delay or defund Obamacare. The media simply doesn't have the bandwidth to cover the mass of hard-liners, so it looks for a few "ring leaders" instead of looking at the movement.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.