According to Ted Cruz's 'Unskewed' Poll, Republicans Are Winning

Sure, poll after poll shows the government shutdown is hurting the GOP with voters. But the Texas senator says to tune that all out.
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Don't worry, Ted Cruz is telling his fellow Republicans, about that new Gallup Poll showing that the GOP's favorability rating has sunk to an all-time low. And ignore the National JournalWashington PostCBS NewsAPCNN, and Pew surveys showing that Americans are mostly blaming Republicans for the government shutdown.

Those are all wrong, the Texas senator is telling his GOP colleagues, because he has his own poll, and it shows the GOP is winning.

As David Drucker reports at The Washington Examiner, Cruz argued to Republicans at a closed-door lunch on Wednesday that the campaign he led to shutdown the government over Obamacare has bolstered the GOP's political position, rather than hurt it. Cruz says he knows this because he paid for his own poll, conducted by his own partisan pollster, who was on hand to explain the results to his skeptical colleagues.

Despite all that, the poll was not much rosier than all public polls, showing that the public blames Republicans for the shutdown by a 7-point margin.

To Cruz, as Drucker writes, this shows that "Republicans are in a much better position than they were during the 1995 shutdown because this impasse is defined by a disagreement over funding for the Affordable Care Act as opposed to a general disagreement over government spending."

Maybe Cruz is right, and maybe Republicans are "winning," and maybe his pollster is better than everyone else's. Maybe.  

But if not, then he's falling victim to same fallacy Republicans ran into leading up the 2012 election, when Mitt Romney was reportedly so convinced that he was going to win that he didn't even bother writing a concession speech. The national public opinion data was pretty clearly showing the opposite, but some on the right stuck to the echo chamber, where the polls were unskewed and the vibes were good, leading to Dick Morris predicting as late as 8 p.m. on election night that Romney would still win big, and later to an on-screen meltdown from Karl Rove when Romney lost Ohio.

The fancy term for this is "epistemic closure," but basically it means only believing what you want to believe and ignoring the rest. That may be why Cruz thought that Barack Obama would ever agree to defund his signature legislative accomplishment. Or thinking, as a large number of Republican lawmakers seem to, that failing to raise the debt ceiling would be no big deal.

But unlike the election, if Cruz is wrong and breaching the debt ceiling is as catastrophic as most economists are predicting, this time the whole country loses.

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Alex Seitz-Wald is a reporter for National Journal

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