Two days ago, House Speaker John Boehner announced he would “certainly” allow a government shutdown if President Obama refuses to curtail his plan to liberalize immigration enforcement. Today, CNN has a poll about who to blame in the event of such a shutdown. Fifty-three percent of Americans would blame the Republican Congress, and only 30 percent would blame Obama.
In the modern polarized electorate, this sort of finding is quite an accomplishment. Thirty percent of America represents your absolute hardcore base, the people who will side with your party on absolutely anything. If Boehner pulled out a lead pipe during the State of the Union Address and began beating the president in full view of the cameras, 30 percent is about the proportion of the public that would blame Obama for the fracas. If you can only get 30 percent to blame the opposing side, you’re in really bad shape.
It may be true that political geography so favors Republican control of the House that almost nothing they could do could pose any threat to their majority. That said, shutting down the government over immigration remains the worst idea they have ever had.