In the aftermath of their abortive effort to save the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program by instigating a government shutdown, Democrats on Capitol Hill are scrambling to reload -- and reassess their limited leverage -- ahead of the next funding deadline, on February 8.
For DACA recipients, immigration activists and allies dedicated to preserving or codifying the program, the postmortem also requires confronting some frank and unnerving new numbers.
According to a Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday, 78% of Democrats say the shutdown was "unnecessary," with only one in five calling it a "necessary" step. Overall, 84% of voters said it was unnecessary.
The bottom line, as framed by recent polling, is this: When considered on the merits, DACA remains wildly popular with Americans. But its standing plummets when pitted against the prospect of a government shutdown.
The indications were there last week. As noted in a CNN poll released Friday, just hours before the shutdown -- a survey that found 84% would like to see the program continue, with strong support across partisan lines -- only 34% prioritized DACA over a functioning (in the most modest sense) federal government.
And the kicker, going back to the Quinnipiac poll: Among those who support a DACA fix, more than half -- 53% -- say this past weekend's shutdown, which had effectively ended by midday Monday, was not worth it.
Another couple weeks of haggling, for naught if history is any guide, could certainly shift these views, as could another outburst from President Donald Trump. That the March 5 deadline, when the program will more formally end (depending on what the courts have to say), is still about six weeks off could also be dampening urgency -- and a willingness to back this particular tactic.
But in making a general appraisal of what voters truly care about, the latest polling suggests that DACA is not a fight even Democratic voters seem willing to go to the mats over. You can bet Democratic elected leaders in Washington know it, and perhaps more importantly, the White House and congressional Republicans do too.
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