NBC: 'Article of Faith' (Not Fact) That GOP 'Paid at the Polls' After '95 Shutdown

On Monday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie acknowledged the liberal spin that congressional  Republicans were punished electorally after the 1995 government shutdown was more a matter of faith than fact: "I mean, for 17 years it's been an article of faith that Republicans paid at the polls after the shutdown in the 90s. But these new House Republicans aren't so sure that's true." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

That observation was in response to chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd declaring: "...while there are that small band of loud conservatives who are wanting to, you know, not cave, not give in to anything, do whatever it takes to stop the health care law, there is a growing chorus of moderate Republicans who are telling Boehner, 'Don't do this. You remember how bad this was for the Republican Party 20 years ago. What are you doing? You're putting the majority at risk.'"

In reality, despite Bill Clinton's reelection in the 1996, Republicans only lost a handful of seats in the House of Representatives, easily maintaining their majority, and actually added two seats to their majority in the Senate.

Wrapping up the exchange with Guthrie, Todd argued:

But there's one article of faith that I always put my analysis in when you see these showdowns. Which party is united? Which party isn't? Democrats are united, there is no Democrat that is ready to break ranks. Republicans are infighting. And that's why you got to assume at some point Boehner's gonna blink. Is it today or does he allow the government to shut down for two or three days and then blink.  

What Todd failed to mention was the fact that two Democratic members Congress – Utah's Jim Matheson and North Carolina's Mike McIntyre – actually voted to delay ObamaCare for a year, and that West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin has voiced support for the proposal.

Todd's assertion echoed that of Meet the Press moderator David Gregory, who appeared on Thursday's Today to proclaim that Republicans "will feel most of the heat" in a government shutdown.


Here is a full transcript of the September 30 segment:

7:04AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Let's get to Chuck Todd. He's NBC's political director, chief White House correspondent. Chuck, good morning to you. And I know you're gonna take a bit of a contrary position to conventional wisdom this morning. You don't think it is inevitable that the government shuts down tonight?

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Shutdown Showdown; Can A Deal Be Struck Before Deadline?]   

CHUCK TODD: It's – look, whenever there's time on the legislative clock, then something could happen. What John Boehner has got going on right now inside among House Republicans is, while there are that small band of loud conservatives who are wanting to, you know, not cave, not give in to anything, do whatever it takes to stop the health care law, there is a growing chorus of moderate Republicans who are telling Boehner, "Don't do this. You remember how bad this was for the Republican Party 20 years ago. What are you doing? You're putting the majority at risk."

And Boehner has a couple of options, Savannah. He could blink, as far as just simply buy time and do a clean funding bill for one week. Anything is possible when there's time on the clock. So we should be careful assuming we're careening toward the end.

GUTHRIE: It seems to me that this all comes down to who thinks they will get the blame for a shutdown. I mean, for 17 years it's been an article of faith that Republicans paid at the polls after the shutdown in the 90s. But these new House Republicans aren't so sure that's true.

TODD: Well, they're not sure that's true. They think that health care is more unpopular than anything that was being debated back in the mid-90s. And so they just – you know, they think this is a different time. The way people get their information is different, so there won't be just the big, bad mainstream media that's controlling the narrative. There are a lot of reasons some of these conservatives think that things will be different this time.

But there's one article of faith that I always put my analysis in when you see these showdowns. Which party is united? Which party isn't? Democrats are united, there is no Democrat that is ready to break ranks. Republicans are infighting. And that's why you got to assume at some point Boehner's gonna blink. Is it today or does he allow the government to shut down for two or three days and then blink.  

GUTHRIE: Chuck Todd in Washington, thank you.

And a reminder, NBC News will have special coverage all this week on air and online to answer your questions about the Affordable Care Act as it takes effect.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC