Government shutdown in 1995 detrimental to GOP ‘a myth,’ says Red State’s Erickson

Jeff Poor Media Reporter
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Fact or fiction: The 1990s government shutdown caused the Republican nominee Bob Dole to lose the election against President Bill Clinton?

According to Erick Erickson, the editor-in-chief of RedState.com, it is fiction. On CNN’s coverage of the first day of the new Congress on Wednesday, Erickson offered a contrarian perspective by saying the threats of the GOP voting not to raise the debt ceiling were serious. But he also said a potential government shutdown that may result from moves by congressional Republicans isn’t as dangerous as some fortunetellers are suggesting.

“Oh, I think they’re very serious,” Erickson said. “And what you’ll probably see them do is give extended limits on certain items. The Treasury secretary already has the power to pick and choose to extend within those limits. And otherwise we may see government shutdown. Contrary to the myth, it didn’t really hurt in 1996 and the new guys know that.”

He cited the election results of 1996. Many credit Bill Clinton’s reelection win in 1996 to the shutdown, blamed on the GOP. However, there are data that suggest otherwise he says.

“It didn’t hurt the Republicans,” he continued. “The Republicans picked up seats in the Senate in 1996 and only lost nine seats in the House. Bob Dole, I think, lost for a different reason. A lot of the freshmen Republicans don’t buy into the story that the shutting down government in ’95 cost them the election in ’96.”


Donna Brazile contended it did hurt and suggested Republicans should beware with such low approval ratings.

“It did,” Brazile said. “And let me tell you this – the Republicans want a chance, a chance to help govern, a chance to sit at the table and come up with solutions with the president and the Democrats in the Senate. This is an opportunity for the Republicans to help lead in a very difficult time. Remember, Congress is still as popular as a root canal.”