As a result of its planned government shutdown, the Republican Party’s favorability rating has plummeted to a record low of 24 percent. Freshman Senator Ted Cruz became a rhetorical leader pushing for the government to shutdown unless the Affordable Care Act was excluded from the federal budget. Cruz, who was confident that his plan would be supported by the American public, now claims that his party’s image hasn’t been damaged by the shutdown – ignoring polls produced by the Wall Street Journal/NBC and Gallup. Senator Cruz attempts to “unskew” the data by funding the only poll which shows that the shutdown has improved Republican favorability. This is reminiscent of conservative polling methodology used during the ramp up to the 2012 presidential election.
Mainstream polls consistently showed President Obama holding a firm lead over GOP challenger Governor Mitt Romney. As a group, Republicans believed Obama’s presidency had been a failure and tended to surround themselves with like-minded individuals. This resulted in a shared delusion in the conservative echo chamber, in which the majority of the country couldn’t wait to throw Barack Obama out of office and replace him with Mitt Romney. When this vision was not reflected by the polls, Republicans became convinced that the so-called mainstream polls actually had a liberal bias and were intended to discourage voters.
Republican pundits began to rally around a new site, UnskewedPolls (the site has been taken down for reasons which are now obvious), which presented polls projecting a landslide GOP victory. This false narrative, which conservatives created for themselves, resulted in Karl Rove’s meltdown on Fox News when the election was called for incumbent President Barack Obama and the astonishing fact that Mitt Romney was so convinced of his inevitable victory that he didn’t even bother to write a concession speech. Romney was reportedly shellshocked by the loss.
Under fire from the media and members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, Cruz has now taken up this strategy. Just as false polling conducted by the right wing didn’t give us a President Romney as a result of the 2012 presidential election, Ted Cruz’s false poll doesn’t make his anti-Obamacare crusade any less of a calamitous, embarrassing failure for the Republican Party.