Although GOP congressional leadership is using a recent poll by Crossroads GPS to throw cold water on ongoing conservative efforts to defund Obamacare, the poll question they cite has nothing to do with current proposals to temporarily defund Obamacare.
According to the poll, which was conducted between June 2 and June 5, 64 percent of the registered voters polled said it would be a bad idea for “opponents of the health care law to risk shutting down the government in an effort to get rid of the law.” Here is the question in full (question #47):
Some people say that the health care reform law is so bad that an effort to repeal it should be attached to a bill necessary to keep the government running. Do you think it is a good idea or a bad idea for opponents of the health care reform law to risk shutting down the government in an effort to get rid of the law?
The poll question, however, does not accurately characterize ongoing efforts to attach temporary defunding provisions to a stop-gap appropriations bill.
Rather than an effort to fully “repeal” Obamacare, the proposal being floated by many congressional conservatives would temporarily defund the law by prohibiting any appropriations from being used to implement the law and by temporarily blocking subsidies created by the law. The defunding provisions would likely be attached to a stop-gap spending bill known as a continuing resolution, or CR.
Additionally, since the current Congress has little ability to unilaterally enact new spending laws — given the current partisan split in Congress, any law would invariably require the president’s signature — it is misleading to assert that Obamacare’s opponents would be the ones to “risk shutting down the government” over the defunding measure.
If the Republican-controlled House passed an Obamacare defunding provision within a larger spending bill and the Democrat-controlled Senate refused to pass it in order to continue funding the government, Senate Democrats — not House Republicans — would be responsible for putting the government’s operations at risk. And if the full Congress passed a stop-gap spending bill that defunded Obamacare, and the president chose to veto it, it would be President Obama — not Congress — who would be responsible for shutting down the government.
Crossroads did not ask whether voters whether thought it was a good idea or bad idea for President Obama or Senate Democrats to risk shutting down the government by vetoing bipartisan legislation to prevent a government shutdown.
Some conservative proponents of ongoing defunding efforts also say the mere wording of the particular question makes it less reliable as an accurate measure of public opinion of defunding proposals.
“I’ve done political consulting for a long time and I have experience designing poll questions,” RedState Editor Erick Erickson told Media Trackers. “And one thing I’ve learned is that if you slap the word ‘reform’ in a question, people are going to instinctively say they support reform.”
Steven Duffield, the VP of policy for Crossroads GPS, defended the group’s poll, saying that question #47 was not related to ongoing defunding efforts.
“The question was written in late May [and was] unrelated to these current defunding efforts,” Duffield wrote in an e-mail to Media Trackers. “It was not designed as message-testing for either side of the argument.”
“As has been true since our founding, Crossroads GPS favors the dismantling and full repeal of ObamaCare,” Duffield added.
According to the poll, 54 percent of registered voters — including a majority of independents — favor full repeal of the law.