I urge you to read Sean Trende’s analysis of the politics of the shutdown. In it he makes four basic points:
- While the GOP’s tactics are similar to those employed in the mid-’90s, the goals are different.
- John Boehner is not Newt Gingrich, and Barack Obama is not Bill Clinton.
- The net effect of the shutdown was small in the 1990s.
- What happens to red state Senate Democrats?
His bottom line is that the shutdown is likely to be an unforced error by the Republicans:
In other words, there’s a decent chance that we’ll encounter a downturn in the economy in the next year, and a very good chance that we’ll encounter one in the next three years. Obama is probably reaching the end of the time period where his predecessor can be blamed for the state of the economy. But a lengthy shutdown could conceivably give Democrats ammunition to place the blame back on Republicans.
The bottom line is this: The shutdown will probably not be a good thing for the GOP, and there’s a good chance Republicans won’t achieve their intended goal of limiting Obamacare’s reach. But at the same time, a lot of the prophecies of doom for Republicans are heavily overwrought. Unless things get too far out of control, the predictions of heavy GOP losses from a shutdown are likely overstated.
My position is not that the shutdown will be an economic disaster but that it won’t help. The political outcome will depend entirely on its effect on the Senate. If the shutdown results in the Republicans losing a few seats in the House while gaining control over the Senate (for the reasons Mr. Trende describes), it will be a disaster for the president, both politically and personally.