The verdict is in, and it’s nearly unanimous: Republicans are to blame for the government shutdown, and their ham-handed stab at derailing Obamacare marks the beginning of the end for the Grand Old Party.
That’s the judgment of pundits who are gleefully documenting the Republicans’ self-destruction. Commentators are sizzling over intraparty feuding, certain the conservative movement has finally been vanquished, and are even drawing parallels between the Republican Party and the Confederacy.
These opinion leaders are armed with polls confirming voters’ low regard for the GOP. And for sure, the polls don’t look good.
One released in Michigan this week, for example, finds 46 percent of state voters place the fault for the shutdown on Republicans, while 36 percent blame President Barack Obama.
Bad news for the GOP, right? Maybe. But the survey by Mitchell Research for the Marketing Resource Group of Lansing also asks voters whether they have been personally affected by the two-week partial closure of federal functions.
Some 80 percent say they haven’t been affected much at all by an event that was cast in apocalyptic terms by Obama and his media chorus.
Does it matter that voters hold Republicans accountable for something that hardly caused a ripple in their daily lives?
The stock markets held steady, despite the president’s attempt to jawbone them into a panic. And even though the administration tried to maximize the pain by barricading the national monuments and other stunts, it turns out the nonessential functions of government truly are nonessential for most of us. It may well fall into the category of “No harm, no foul.”
But if voters weren’t affected by the shutdown, then they likely aren’t angry or frustrated by it, as the pundits insist.
So the ballot box consequences for Republicans may be insignificant, particularly with the election a year away.
What Republicans managed to accomplish by shutting down the government on the same day Obamacare went into effect was to distract the focus away from the unfolding disaster of the health care law.
The computer system running the health exchanges works only sporadically and may not be fixed in time to allow everyone who wants to enroll to sign up by the Feb. 14 final deadline.
Many who have managed to gain access are stunned by the vast amount of personal information that’s required simply to get a quote for coverage.
And security experts question the system’s ability to keep that data secure.
Meanwhile, those who have private insurance — including 149,000 more this week in Michigan — continue to get letters informing them the cost of those policies is soaring, thanks to Obamacare.
In a year, voters aren’t likely to remember one more brief government shutdown or who caused it. But if Republicans are smart, they’ll remind them every day of who stuck them with Obamacare, and what it’s costing them.
Follow Nolan Finley at detroitnews.com/finley, on Twitter at nolanfinleydn, on Facebook at nolanfinleydetnews and watch him at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays on “MiWeek” on Detroit Public TV, Channel 56.