Last week, I noted that based on a Pew Research Center poll, the White House appears to be winning the public relations war over the sequester. Today, The New Republic’s Nate Cohn looks at the same poll and a more recent one and concludes that maybe the Republicans have the edge after all:
President Barack Obama might have thought that this time would be different, but Republicans apparently believe that the political costs of the sequester pale in comparison to a potentially fatal agreement to raise taxes. It’s not hard to see how they’ve reached that conclusion, at least for now. The White House is right that public opinion is on their side, but the polls don’t yet show public outrage, and certainly not enough to force Republicans to cave to Obama’s demands. A recent Pew Research/USA Today survey shows that only 27 percent of adults have heard a lot about the sequester, while today’s Pew Research/Washington Post survey shows only 25 percent are paying very close attention. Before the debt ceiling, nearly twice as many Americans were paying close attention; as many as 40 percent were paying very close attention to the fiscal cliff.
Cohn concludes that the “public outrage” over the sequester will not be enough to budge them. That may be the case. If it is, it will be in part because of the relentlessness of the Democrats’ attacks against the GOP on budget issues in recent year. Any PR damage they would get over the sequester cuts they have probably already taken anyway.
Of course public outrage over the cuts is only going to the hit the Republicans mainly if the public is unaware that the sequester was the White House’s idea in the first place and that Obama both signed it into law and vowed to veto any effort to undo it. Cohn, for some reason, doesn’t mention those inconvenient facts.