- - Wednesday, November 13, 2013

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Beware political prophets claiming to know the outcome of the next election. Such prophets are frauds. The whims of voters, being human, are notoriously fickle. Quinnipiac University polling, as reliable as any, now reveals that the current winds favor Republicans, proving only that voters have forgotten the government shutdown and have moved on, even if most of the pundits haven’t.

That’s enough to dash the Democratic strategy of blaming Republicans for failing to fund the government, though it’s the Democratic-majority Senate that still won’t pass appropriation bills. Only yesterday the Democrats gleefully pointed to their lead in generic congressional ballot polls, clobbering Republicans and suggesting decisive Democratic victories in 2014. The intimidation worked. Terrified Republicans gave up everything and got nothing in return.

Republican panic and all that party turmoil was wasted. The public either doesn’t care or has forgotten the manufactured shutdown drama. The generic ballot is tied now at 39 all. Last month, a 9-point gap favored Democrats.

In a hypothetical presidential matchup, Hillary Clinton trounces Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. Only Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey defeats the former first lady, and only by a single point.

Mr. Christie’s limited-government bona fides have been in question since he hugged President Obama too close for Republican taste amid the wreckage of Hurricane Sandy. That was just before the 2012 elections, and in return he won generous federal disaster assistance for his state. Still, there’s no doubting the appeal of a governor who can deliver a deep-blue state like New Jersey.

“It’s a long way off, and no one is officially a candidate yet, but the Hillary Clinton-Chris Christie race to the White House is neck-and-neck before the campaign even saddles up,” says Quinnipiac pollster Tim Malloy.

Doing the right thing has always been more important than poll watching. Republicans took the blame for shutting down the government, demonstrating their opposition to Obamacare and higher spending. Now the Republicans are doing OK, and Obamacare is not.

Mr. Christie’s dalliance with Mr. Obama notwithstanding, he could teach Senate Republicans a thing or two about standing one’s ground. The brash governor is known for in-your-face challenges to public-sector unions and stare-down contests with Trenton Democrats, coercing a bit of fiscal responsibility.

But the winds will blow again for the Democrats. Nothing recedes like success. What goes around comes around. Pick your aphorism. The only reliable strategy is to always act on principle. Nothing confuses the opposition more, and nothing pleases voters more.

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