How Shutdown, Default Politics May Play in 2014

The shutdown could hurt the GOP brand, but not the tea party's.

House Speaker John Boehner walks to his office on Oct. 2, 2013, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
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Many have speculated the House Republicans will pay a political price in 2014 for inducing a federal government shutdown by insisting President Barack Obama agree to defund his signature domestic initiative, the Affordable Care Act. But that's not likely to happen, experts say, because the memory of American voters is short.

"If this were October 2014 my answer would probably be yes. But it's 2013. How many other things are going to intervene between now and then?" says Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. "I'm not eliminating the possibility that it might, but we are just too quick to jump too many months into the future and decide what's important today be important a year from now."

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Polls show Republicans have taken a larger share of the blame for public anger about the on-going shutdown, though both sides think they are playing the winning political hand.

"This is just something where they're fighting for what they believe and we're fighting for what we believe in, and the voters will have all the information they need and I think that's going to have ramifications down the line," says Mike Czin, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee.

Kristen Kukowski, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, counters that Americans are seeing how weak a leader Obama is, and that will pay dividends for Republicans at the ballot box in 2014.

"Obama is the president and his job is to lead; the longer he refuses to come to the table, the more Americans will realize he's the typical politician he promised he wouldn't be," she said in a written statement. "Democrats up for re-election next year are already struggling with Obamacare, Obama's war on coal and other job killing mandates and the president's failure to lead is just another obstacle for them."

More than the federal shutdown, the fight regarding the debt ceiling and potential default – expected on Oct. 17 unless Congress raises the debt ceiling – is likely to be the issue that lingers into the midterm elections.

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"The debt default I think is a more plausible candidate for something that might reverberate a little bit because of the economic impact and because that would be a truly unique experience in American history," says David Hopkins, political science professor at Boston College. "A debt default has more potential to have long-ranging effects and it's very unpredictable."

Obama and House Republican leaders met with a group of Wall Street executives Wednesday to discuss the financial implications of a potential default, with the CEOs hoping to impress upon the politicians the dire effect a default would have.

"There's a consensus that we shouldn't do anything that hurts this recovery," said Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs as he left the White House, according to Bloomberg News. "They shouldn't use the threat of causing the U.S. to fail on its obligations to repay its debt as a cudgel."

Obama is scheduled to meet with a bipartisan group of congressional leaders Wednesday evening, though the two sides appear to remain at odds regarding how to resolve the shutdown and negotiate a deal that would include raising the debt ceiling.

[READ: Obama Meets With Wall Street CEOs on Shutdown Impasse]

Hopkins says the outcome of those two political fights could dictate who has a candidate recruiting and fundraising advantage in 2014.

"If people feel like one party is really winning this battle or wins this battle once the shutdown is resolved, then that party will probably do better at recruiting strong candidates for Congress, [and] will probably do better at raising money than the party that's portrayed as the losing party," he says. "Candidate quality and money matter in elections."

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