Democrats Doubt Shutdown Chaos Will Hurt Them In Midterm Elections The Democrats are betting that voters will blame President Trump for the government shutdown. NPR's Scott Simon talks to Democratic pollster Geoff Garin about his party's strategy.

Democrats Doubt Shutdown Chaos Will Hurt Them In Midterm Elections

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


Almost every Democrat in the U.S. Senate voted against the procedural motion last night that might have averted the shutdown. But five Democrats voted for it, and four of those Democrats who are up for re-election this year in states that voted for President Trump. Geoff Garin is a Democratic pollster who joins us now.

Mr. Garin, thanks for being with us.

GEOFF GARIN: Thanks for having me, Scott.

SIMON: A lot of Democrats seemed to have made a calculation they won't be blamed for the shutdown. What does your polling say?

GARIN: Well, the polling, both nationally and in the Senate battleground states, indicates that voters are inclined to blame President Trump and the Republicans. There was an ABC-Washington Post poll yesterday where, by 48-28, people said that President Trump and the Republicans would be more to blame rather than the Democrats in Congress. And we polled very recently in these Senate battleground states and found - where President Trump, as you noted, had won by a margin of about 11 points collectively. And even there, by 11, points people were more inclined to blame President Trump and the Republicans rather than the Democrats. People recognize that the Republicans control the entirety of the government and think it's their responsibility to make it work.

SIMON: So Democrats in conservative states that voted in favor - essentially voted with the Republicans on that motion, a Republican majority. In your mind - what? - they were unnecessarily cautious or fussy or what?

GARIN: Well, you know, I assumed that they were making a judgment of what's best for their state and that's what voters expect of them. But I would note that in these states - even in the reddest of the red states - there is support among the vast majority of voters to include protections for the DREAMers in the government-funding bill. Even among voters who told us they supported President Trump in the 2016 election...

SIMON: Well, let me...

GARIN: So 68 percent say that the DREAMers should have been - should be included in the final bill.

SIMON: But what if you balance that? Because Republicans have charged that Democrats are putting DACA recipients, which amount to perhaps less than a million people, over other groups of interest that have a lot of concerns. Specifically, let's say, the 9 million people who are insured to the Children's Health Insurance Program, CHIP.

GARIN: You know, for the average citizen this is not - the common sense answer to this is, this is not a choice - that the congress ought to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time - and that there's no reason in the world why the government-funding bill can't both extend the life of the Children's Health Insurance Program and provide the promised protections for the DREAMers. It's only a kind of, you know, a Washington politician who would say, we can only do one or the other of those things. Most Americans say, this is simple. You ought to do both.

SIMON: But you poll for Washington politicians, too - don't you?

GARIN: I do. And I - you know, here on the merits of the argument, I think the Democrats have the high ground in the sense that the - what they're arguing about is something that the vast majority of Americans support, which is the inclusion of protections for the DREAMers.

SIMON: Geoff Garin is the president of Hart Research Associates, a Democratic polling firm.

Thanks so much for being with us, Mr. Garin.

GARIN: Thanks for having me, Scott.

Copyright © 2018 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.