The concern inside the party flows from the understanding that Senate races tend to be very different from House contests. Independent and swing voters have more influence in determining the outcome, even in states that are overwhelmingly red or blue.
The good news for Republicans is that independents generally agree with the GOP in their disapproval of the new health-care law, which is the signature achievement of the Obama presidency.
See why some House Republicans might support a clean budget bill.
ANALYSIS | After the shutdown debacle, Republicans are figuring out how to deal with outspoken members.
Senate minority leader may be the most accomplished congressional dealmaker of his time.
Decades-long ties formed unshakable faith in Boehner, even as the country neared default.
Across Washington, there’s a lot of business to catch up on and money to be earned.
In the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, 54 percent of independents expressed a negative opinion of the Affordable Care Act, while 42 percent had a positive view.
But the Republicans’ own numbers show that although independents do not favor the health-care law, they are even less enamored with the idea of shutting down the government to stop it.
The GOP super PAC Crossroads GPS recently conducted surveys in 10 states that are likely to have competitive Senate races, as well as in House districts that lean Republican or could go either way. It found that, among independents, 58 percent opposed shutting down the government as a means of stopping the implementation of the health-care law. Only 30 percent supported such a move.
Karl Rove, a Crossroads GPS founder and President George W. Bush’s top strategist, earlier cautioned Republicans that they were risking much if they pursued a government shutdown.
“Going down that road would strengthen the president while alienating independents. It is an ill-conceived tactic, and Republicans should reject it,” Rove wrote in the Wall Street Journal in mid-September.
The longer the shutdown goes on, Republicans predict, the more the blame will be spread around.
“It doesn’t help. We’re not going to vault up in the polls,” said Don Stewart, a spokesman for Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who not only is defending his seat next year, but also hopes to trade in his minority-leader title for that of majority leader.
But Stewart predicted that, ultimately, voters will decide: “In the government shutdown, it’s all D.C.”