Sen. Ted Cruz during a closed-door lunch on Wednesday argued to his Republican colleagues that the campaign he led to defund Obamacare has bolstered the GOP’s political position in dealing with the government shutdown.
Republicans who attended the weekly lunch hosted by Senate conservatives confirmed that Cruz presented a poll that the Texan paid for. Cruz’ pollster, Chris Perkins, was there for a portion of the discussion to help walk members through the poll and discuss the party's messaging strategy. Perkins is a partner with Wilson Perkins Allen, a GOP polling firm with dozens of Republican clients.
The survey’s findings mirrored other national polls: More voters blame the Republicans for the government shutdown than blame President Obama or the Democrats. But Cruz argued, based on the poll, that Republicans are in a much better position than they were during the 1995 shutdown because this impasse is defined by a disagreement over funding for the Affordable Care Act as opposed to a general disagreement over government spending.
That is notable because, during last week’s conservative luncheon, Cruz was harshly criticized for pushing Republicans into a politically risky government shutdown without a strategy to win the standoff, particularly because polls have consistently shown that voters oppose the defund-or-shut down strategy favored by the senator, despite the fact that they disapprove of Obamacare.
A copy of Cruz’ poll was obtained by the Washington Examiner. The national survey of 815 likely voters was conducted last week immediately after the government shut down. It had a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points. Among its findings:
– Obama’s job approval rating was 45 percent; his disapproval was 52 percent.
– 67 percent said Obamacare was the “major reason” for the government shutdown.
– By a margin of 46 percent to 39 percent, voters blamed Republicans for the shutdown over “Obama and Democrats.” Another 15 percent are undecided about who to blame.
– By a margin of 42 percent to 36 percent, independent voters blamed Republicans for the shutdown over Obama and the Democrats.
– In November 1995, 51 percent of voters blamed Republicans for the shutdown; only 28 percent blamed then-President Clinton