On Friday, the government suffered a partial shutdown as Senate Democrats balked at funding the government with a CR for four weeks and getting nothing in return. Senate Democrats are digging in their heels and demanding a DACA fix before they agree to any sort of funding for the government. Late reports have circulated stating that Minority Leader Schumer almost had a deal with the President but once DACA and immigration changes entered the mix the two moved apart. Earlier, the House had passed a four week CR and kicked it to the Senate.
Despite the partial shutdown it is clear neither Democrats nor Republicans want a long, drawn out shut-down. House Republicans are already campaigning on doing their job and the Senate being unable to do theirs. And while Senate Democrats and the President trade barbs over who is responsible for the shutdown they continue to negotiate on the contours of another short-term deal. Thus, the odds are good this shut-down ends sooner than that of the 90’s or 2013.
But, the political damage appears likely to hit both parties equally. Republicans in the House were already likely to have a bad November while Senate Democrats, due to the map they face, also were unlikely to get a majority. Talks to the contrary after the Alabama special election ignore how unique the Alabama special election really was and just how few Republicans showed up to vote. Republicans have some pretty solid, if generic, Republicans running in West Virginia, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, and North Dakota.
Despite the House voting to keep the government open the fact the Senate could not agree to do the same is unlikely to make voters look more favorably on the GOP controlled House. Already unpopular due to their tax cuts and attempts to repeal healthcare reform the liberal base remains excited and the shut-down makes Independents and Republicans ambivalent. Despite the Freedom Caucus controlling the fate of major GOP legislation the party’s majority relies on Congressmen and women sitting in Clinton districts where a significant percentage of swing voters and Democrats reside. The shutdown does not help this happen.
The Senate is a completely different beast altogether. Ten Democrats sit in Trump carried states and while the environment does favor those in traditional swing/close states like Ohio, Florida and Wisconsin, the same cannot be said for the Endangered Five (ND, WV, IN, MT, MO). These Senators elected either in the Democratic wave of 2006 (Jon Tester, Claire McCaskill) or Obama’s 2012 reelection (Joe Manchin, Joe Donnelly, Heidi Heitkamp) have relied on winning over a swath of right leaning voters. They have done this by cultivating an image of being pragmatic problem-solvers and being lucky to face flawed opponents.
Being party to a government shutdown contradicts this image. Indeed, only Claire McCaskill voted to avoid the shutdown on Friday while even Joe Manchin voted against the motion to end debate. Shutting down the government over “800,000 illegals” is probably not going to play well in red West Virginia.
Even in an environment favoring their party these Senators need all the help they can get. Their actions are going to play differently among more conservative electorates than the nation. It does not impact a Kamala Harris in California whose namesake and claim to fame is opposing the President at every turn. But voters in Missouri, West Virginia and other red states want their Senators to work with the man they voted for to be President.
Thus, it is becoming readily clear neither party may benefit from the shutdown. The results could be mixed. No wonder both parties are scrambling to end it before the damage becomes localized to a single party.