Crystal Ball predicts government shutdown blowback

Predictions foresee potential shift in public opinion toward House leadership

The Center for Politics’ Crystal Ball released an article Thursday titled “The Politics of the Shutdown: If Republicans get the blame, moderates will pay the price,” which argued the government shutdown may reflect poorly upon the Republican Party leading into the 2014 midterm elections.

Crystal Ball Managing Editor Kyle Kondik, who wrote the article, said Oct. 1, the day the shutdown began, represented “perhaps the best day for Democrats in the U.S. House this cycle.”

“[It’s] hard to see how Republicans ultimately come out of this battle looking good,” Kondik said.
But Kondik also questioned how large of an impact that negative publicity would have on next year’s midterm elections.

“We continue to believe that the Republicans are strongly favored to hold control of the House, although we’re less certain that Republicans are better positioned to add seats,” Kondik said in the article.

The article compared this shutdown to the last unpopular shutdown from 1995-96, during which Republicans under then-Speaker Newt Gingrich retained the House in the 1996 elections following their role in the federal government shutdown.

The article stressed that no definitive conclusions about either party’s political future can be reached yet. Democrats, as of now, still have an uphill battle before they can take back the House, according to the article. Historical precedent suggests the party that does not control the White House — the Republicans in this case — is more likely to win seats during midterm elections.

“Republicans have plenty of things going for them in the 2014 midterms,” Kondik said. “There’s no historical precedent for the president’s party to take over the House from the other party in a midterm.”

The Crystal Ball is run by the University’s Center for Politics, which was created by University Politics Prof. Larry Sabato.

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