The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll about the looming government shut down contains some numbers that are not all that surprising and one that should be on the minds of both Democratic Party and Republican Party bigwigs: it’s clear independent voters — those voters partisans in both parties belittle until they need their votes to win — do not want to see a government shut down and want both parties to compromise.
Another key finding: Democrats are willing to try consensus. Many Republicans don’t want compromise.
Here are the key portions on independent voters (remember that Barack Obama won in 2008 with the support of independents, but the Dems lost independent support in 2010, the GOP won the independent vote in many places and they gained control of the House and many governorships):
In a contrast that illustrates why the standoff has pushed the federal government to the verge of a shutdown, the poll finds an overwhelming majority of Democrats wanting the leaders of their party in Congress to compromise, and a majority of Republicans wanting theirs to stand firm.
According to the poll, 68 percent of self-identified Democrats, as well as 76 percent of political independents, say they want Democratic leaders in the House and Senate to make compromises to gain consensus in the current spending debate
By comparison, 56 percent of self-identified Republicans — and 68 percent of Tea Party supporters — want GOP leaders to stick to their position, even if it means the inability to achieve consensus.
But while the Republican base is calling on its leaders to stand firm, key swing voters send a very different message — with 66 percent of independents saying they want GOP leaders in the House and Senate to compromise.
I personally see these numbers as yet another sign of what I call the “talk radio political culture” and its continuing success is influencing how the country’s politics now operates. A lot of the tone for the GOP since Obama was elected has been set by talk show hosts who’ve urged their audiences to call their Republican representatives in Congress. To most talk show hosts consensus is a sign of selling out. Compromise is caving. For generations compromise and consensus were the hallmarks of not just wise politics but smart policy.
Trying to garner the support of more than 50+1 meant decisions were given time to be implemented and chance to be judged on effectiveness. Now it’s trying to get ammunition to destroy or check mate the other side.
These poll numbers suggest that if House Speaker John Boehner opts to eventually not compromise and the government is shut down he’s taking a calculated risk that what Republicans lose in terms of independent support (add to that lost support of Hispanics, African-Americans and according to polls younger voters) can be made up in Tea Party support.
Meanwhile, all sides are playing the blame game. And the poll found there is enough to spread around.
A plurality of 37 percent say they would blame congressional Republicans, while 20 percent say they would blame President Barack Obama and another 20 percent would blame congressional Democrats.
Seventeen percent say they would blame everyone, and another 2 percent say they would blame both Obama and congressional Democrats.
On one cable show a GOPer argued that the Democrats are in worse shape since 20 percent would blame Obama and 20 percent the Democrats.
The poll also had some bad news for Rep. Paul Ryan and Republicans who intend to support him on changing Medicare:
According to the poll, however, a majority of Americans don’t believe Medicare needs significant changes.
The bottom line: if the GOP doesn’t take care it is within a hair of being defined — perhaps until election day — as overreaching.
Some will wonder: Is Wisconsin Governor Scott Brown now controlling his party’s Congressional strategy?
For other views on this poll GO HERE.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.