I was listening to 538 podcast about shutdown end, and they made it sound like their opinion is that on balance, Democrats didn't really win anything meaningful (compared to not having started shutdown) (leaving aside their main opinion that shutdowns don't really seem to matter much in the big scheme of political things long term).

But what I don't quite get is, what did the Republicans win? They will have to vote on DACA slightly later down the road by like 2-3 weeks, but they would STILL have to vote, and if the same views persist across these 3 weeks, they will merely have another 100% identical situation with a threat of shutdown when CR expires. Kicking the ball down the road by 3 weeks seems not much of a win to me - and given the promise to vote on DACA, AND people blaming a shutdown, even a small one, on Republicans (according to polls), more of a loss than a win.

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    Perhaps there are no winners when the boneheads in charge (not party specific, there) show they can't do their jobs properly. Jan 23, 2018 at 15:47
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    It seems like the problem is you're looking for logic or a point to all of this. :D Jan 23, 2018 at 15:52
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    @PoloHoleSet - <insert shoulder shrug emoji>
    – user4012
    Jan 23, 2018 at 15:54
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    @user4012 ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
    – Machavity
    Jan 23, 2018 at 15:55
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    @blip Yes, on the surface, this appears to be opinion, but if you count the number of articles that say Schumer caved (and they are coming from both the left and the right), the sheer volume of articles from news sources saying this make it a valid question. One person says this was a loss for A and a victory for B is opinion. Fine. 25, 50 or 100 news sources write that same thing and almost none write the reverse. That deserves a closer look. It's a trend. It may not be a consensus, but there should be a tangible link behind that much agreement and that makes this a good question.
    – userLTK
    Jan 24, 2018 at 6:18

3 Answers 3


Kicking the ball down the road by 3 weeks seems not much of a win to me - and given the promise to vote on DACA, AND people blaming a shutdown, even a small one, on Republicans (according to polls), more of a loss than a win.

  1. The government is open again. While there might be a "winner" and "loser" in public polling, everyone loses sooner or later in a full shutdown. In 2013, the Obama administration shut down the national parks when the GOP had their last government shutdown, which oddly included the open-access war memorials in Washington DC. Visiting veterans openly moved past the barricades, a move supported by some Democrats

    Notably, GOP congressmen and women were not the only members out supporting the World War II veterans today. Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin was also at the memorial this morning lending his support to the group of veterans.

  2. The Democrats failed to gain momentum on the DACA issue. Democrats knew that the GOP typically takes blame in shutdowns (all prior shutdowns were instigated by them), and while that may have held true here, it didn't produce the desired momentum shift

    Yet the shutdown is no clean political win for Democrats. Americans don’t necessarily approve of the party's strategy to insist on a legislative solution for undocumented immigrants brought here as children before voting to reopen the government. In fact, both parties’ immigration stances — Democrats’ efforts to protect the so-called Dreamers and Trump’s insistence on funding a border wall with Mexico — are viewed by voters as less important than keeping the government open.

    Keeping in mind that #1 was doing real damage, the GOP still emerges from this in a stronger position on DACA negotiations, since Democrats couldn't move polls in their direction with a shutdown (which was their most potent tool). Democrats will be less likely to execute a shutdown solely for DACA, since neither the press, nor their constituents, will be as likely to buy that reasoning. There's an increased risk that another shutdown hurts the Democrats instead, and in an election year it's unlikely they would want to hurt their political brand.

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    This doesn't seem to answer the question of what Republicans won (as opposed to what they didn't lose). Also, the comparison was supposed to be - sorry if the question wasn't clear - not "vs. protacted shutdown" but "As-of Dec 8 vs. as-of Friday"
    – user4012
    Jan 23, 2018 at 14:47
  • @user4012 I made my second point more explicit on how the GOP benefited from ending the shutdown quickly
    – Machavity
    Jan 23, 2018 at 15:20
  • OK, may be I'm being dense, they can still try a shutdown on Dec 8th, exactly same as this weekend. How will that be any different?
    – user4012
    Jan 23, 2018 at 15:49
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    @user4012 I assume you mean Feb 8. The difference is that they will be trying the same game plan they ran this weekend: DACA fix or shutdown. But the shutdown didn't help the DACA issue at all. The Democrats will be incurring a much larger risk this time, as constituents and pundits alike will be tired of the same tactics. The likelihood the GOP takes the blame on that one will diminish, and without the chance of Dems getting what they want out of DACA.
    – Machavity
    Jan 23, 2018 at 15:53
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    Of Republicans you say "all prior shutdowns were instigated by them". However spending bills have to originate in the House and in 2013 the Rupublicans controlled the House and did their job of passing a number of CRs. Those CRs were blocked by the Democrats in the Senate (and were threatened to be vetoed by Obama). In 1996 The Republican Congress sent Bill Clinton a budget and he vetoed it. In both cases is was actions by Democrats that created the shut-down. Also the 1980 shutdown occurred when the Democrats controlled the House, Senate, and Presidency.
    – Readin
    Jan 26, 2018 at 6:55

Republicans did not repeal the filibuster. Since they couldn't avoid a shutdown without either Democratic support or repealing the filibuster, that's a win for those who would like to retain the filibuster to use in the future (when Republicans are next in the Senate minority).

Republicans did "win" the shutdown without giving Democrats anything they weren't already planning on giving them. So they came out of it with about as good a record as people could have expected going into it.

Republicans disconnected the continuing resolution from DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) for the moment. It's unclear what will happen when a DACA bill is brought to the Senate. They have the votes to pass one in the Senate. It's uncertain how many they lose due to whatever other immigration changes get included.

It's uncertain if Donald Trump will support it, although they may have the Senate votes to override a veto (67, and we know they have at least 60 if they can vote for cloture). It's uncertain if it can pass the House much less with veto override supermajority (two thirds of the votes cast, which can be up to 290 if all 435 Representatives vote).

Republicans also have five Democratic Senators in states that voted for Trump on record as supporting shutting down the government in order to avoid immigration reforms. This is relevant, because some of these same Senators may be on record as opposing the concept of shutting down the government over policy.

The next time Republicans vote for a shutdown, many Democrats will be limited in the criticism that they can make. Because the Republicans can now point to the Democrats as having supported a shutdown for policy unrelated to the budget.

The shutdown had minimal actual effect. It closed before a weekend and opened afterward. So other than a few closed parks and some closed federal offices on a Monday, there wasn't much impact.

Beyond all that, Republicans are kind of stuck. On the one side, there is pressure to do something DACA-related that will cover the Dreamers. On the other side, their base wants immigration changes that restrict immigration. While most Americans support DACA reforms, polling something like 75-20 in favor, there's still the 20. That's a small group, but it's one that is mostly Republican. This may not be a winnable situation for Republicans. They may lose either way. Perhaps the best that they can do is to minimize their losses.

How much do Republicans need to get in return for DACA to satisfy their base? We don't know yet. The longer they can delay, the more pressure there is to do something, as DACA expires in March. However, the Democrats feel that pressure more strongly than Republicans. While DACA is popular, even among Republicans, it is more popular among Democrats.

If Republicans offer up a bill that includes DACA and some number of immigration reforms, then it is unclear where that leaves Democrats. Republicans will have kept their promise. Will Democrats be forced to vote for a bill that they don't like? If the form of the bill is publicly popular, this could mean that the next time, people will blame the Democrats for the shutdown. They blinked this time, when polling suggested that Republicans were being hurt more. What would happen if the Democrats were the ones being hurt more?

And all that assumes that the polls showing the Republicans being hurt more were correct. It's possible that the Democrats had polling (or other information) showing that they were actually being hurt worse, possibly in the twelve states with competitive Senate elections. Remember that the national vote is essentially irrelevant in a midterm election. It's the state and district votes that will control the results.

  • I'm not sure how anything except "The next time Republicans vote for a shutdown, many Democrats will be limited in the criticism that they can make." is different between now and 3 weeks from now, based on your answer. Everything else you stated seems equally true in both cases.
    – user4012
    Jan 23, 2018 at 10:33

For the record, I agree with you. I see this as more of a tie than a win. If, in 3 weeks, both parties have exactly the same leverage they have today, then it's not a victory for either side. It's just a nice 3 week return to normalcy for the people inconvenienced by the shutdown.

But people are saying it's a democratic/Schumer "cave-in", I think, for a couple reasons. One, the democrat's always cave in. At least, that's what they appear to do a lot. The republicans play rugby, the democrats play tag. That's perception, but perception drives what people think and say.

There's also the argument that DACA will, in time, be accepted by the republicans because the DACA immigrants are the most acceptable and Trump even said "We love the dreamers". If DACA is a given, what this push comes down to is what the democrats will give the republicans in return. The Republicans want a LOT in return for DACA, not just the wall, but end to the voucher program and (I should read up, but other stuff I imagine), but if DACA will pass anyway, the Democrat feeling is that they shouldn't get a lot in exchange.

So, If the public (slightly) blamed the republicans more than the democrats for the shutdown, then the feeling is that Schumer should have used that to his advantage, and held out, not called for a 3 week discussion while the government was funded. Because he didn't hold out, people say the Republicans won.

Now, I as I said, I don't agree with that because 3 weeks is practically nothing and maybe they can work something out, agree on it and send it to the house in that time, while avoiding the pain of a shutdown, so I don't see any clear losing in there. I see it as a better option, but, as you know, there's no shortage of people saying that Chuck was the one who caved.

I rather like this New Yorker summary. The whole thing is a unpredictable with what the more conservative house of representatives will pass, what Trump will sign and what Schumer will give in return. It's possible that McConnell will sign off on an agreement with Schumer and the bill will die anyway. Interesting times we live in. (but I digress).

  • I have to ask, why the downvotes? I thought this was pretty straight forward. Kindly explain your votes, especially if you're the first one or if there's no comments.
    – userLTK
    Jan 23, 2018 at 7:59
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    I downvoted this answer because it is mostly personal opinion and conjecture.
    – Philipp
    Jan 23, 2018 at 9:27
  • You think measuring whether an outcome is a tie, loss or a win is factual? @Philipp I read the articles as to what people are saying and pointed that out, and I pointed out why I agreed with the OP.
    – userLTK
    Jan 23, 2018 at 11:16
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    @Philipp in fairness, the question is entirely asking for opinion and conjecture. There's no 'official scoreboard' here for us to answer with any authority what is a win v loss.
    – user1530
    Jan 23, 2018 at 17:58

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