Government shutdowns are political losers for Congress. In 1995, Republicans led by House Speaker Newt Gingrich lost a face-off against President Bill Clinton. Republicans’ 2013 shutdown was a political disaster as well, forcing the GOP to back down from their ultimatum that President Barack Obama defund Obamacare. Democrats’ mini-shutdown this January was also a flop. Never one to let history or his own party’s fortunes get in the way, though, President Trump is again threatening to shut down the government, this time to get his wall.

As a preliminary matter, let’s remember that the wall, except among Republicans, is hugely unpopular. My Post colleague Daniel W. Drezner recently reviewed polling, showing that, with exactly one outlier, nearly 60 percent oppose the wall. Even when Americans favor a policy objective (e.g., relief for “dreamers”), they don’t like shutting down the government to do it; when the objective is widely disliked, a shutdown is akin to political suicide.

Last week, Republican leaders thought they had reached a deal with Mr. Trump to delay a confrontation on funding for the wall until after the November midterm elections, according to a person familiar with their discussion.
But Mr. Trump’s shutdown threat, in which he also demanded several pieces of a comprehensive immigration overhaul that is stalled in Congress, has opened the door to a politically bruising spending fight as the fiscal year ends in September.

Even if Trump doesn’t insist on shutting down the government, the spectacle of Republican infighting, hard-liners pushing unpopular positions on immigration and general ongoing chaos should give Democrats room to argue that the GOP cannot govern sanely.

This is hardly Republicans’ only problem, but it is likely to aggravate some existing ones. Each day brings more evidence that female voters will pummel Republicans. The Kaiser Family Foundation’s latest poll follows other surveys’ findings of deep animosity among women toward Trump:

Expected to be a key voting group in the upcoming 2018 midterms, the poll finds twice as many women voters ages 18-44 saying they are Democrats as saying they are Republicans (43 percent compared to 21 percent). In addition, younger women voters (18-44 years old) are more likely to say they are “more enthusiastic” about voting this year than in previous midterm elections. Four in ten (39 percent) women voters, ages 18-44, say they are “more enthusiastic” about voting in this Congressional Election compared to previous years. In 2014, the last midterm election cycle, 14 percent of women voters ages 18-44 said they were “more enthusiastic” about voting. … Two-thirds (68 percent) of women voters, ages 18-44, disapprove (either “strongly” or “somewhat”) of the job President Trump is doing, as do 58 percent of women voters, overall.

If Republicans think a shutdown circus pushing an issue a large majority of women oppose — complete with Trump bombast and threats — is going to win women back, I’ve got a bridge, not a wall, to sell them.

The Democrat's new platform is a raw deal for minorities, says Global Opinions editor Karen Attiah. (Gillian Brockell, Kate Woodsome, Karen Attiah/The Washington Post)

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