House Republicans claim the American people oppose both a shutdown and Obamacare.
"The American people don't want the government shut down, and they don't want Obamacare," House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said last month after an opening salvo from his chamber to derail the 2010 Affordable Care Act in return for a temporary extension to keep the government running.
That line—repeated constantly by GOP lawmakers as the government began on Tuesday its first partial closing in 17 years—is meant to suggest that the GOP has merely honored the wishes of the public.
But that statement is a huge misread of voter sentiment. No matter how often Republicans echo this argument, it’s unlikely to drastically reshape what the polling says. By demanding that Obamacare—which launches its health insurance exchanges today despite the shutdown—be delayed as a condition to fund the government, the GOP is, in fact, doing the exact opposite of what voters want.
It is true that Obamacare is unpopular with the majority of America. So is a government shutdown. But most Americans reject the GOP plan to shutter the government in order to stop Obamacare.
The latest poll confirming this trend came on Tuesday from Quinnipiac University. It found that Americans oppose a shutdown to block Obamacare by a massive 72 percent to 22 percent margin. A similar share of Americans is also against using the debt ceiling to stop the programs from the Affordable Care Act.
And in a reflection of the battle inside the GOP House caucus, 44 percent of Republican voters oppose the shutdown, while 49 percent support it. What the GOP does lose is backing from independent voters, 74 percent of whom say the shutdown should not be used to hinder Obamacare.
“On almost all questions, voters see President Obama as more reasonable, and better able to handle the issues,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “But it is not because the president is beloved. He remains under water in job approval and is tied with Congressional Republicans on who best handles the budget deficit. Voters are angry at almost everyone in Washington over their inability to keep the trains running, but they are madder at the Republicans than the Democrats.”