A new Quinnipiac poll perfectly illustrates why Senate Democrats’ only hope for reducing Republican obstructionism is by changing the Senate rules. It found that the vast majority of voters still don’t blame the Republicans for gridlock in Washington. Among independents, 72 percent still blame both sides equally for the gridlock. From Quinnipaic:

Who do you blame for gridlock in Washington Democrats, Republicans, or both equally?

                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk    Hsp

Democrats            10%    26%     2%     7%    11%     9%    12%     2%     7%
Republicans          23      3     47     18     23     24     20     44     20
Both equally         64     69     48     72     64     64     65     49     70
DK/NA                 3      2      3      2      2      4      3      4      3

Attempts to publicly blame and shame Republicans into behaving better simply can’t work because the vast majority of Americans are never going to pay attention to Congressional procedure. Most regular voters only see headlines about Congress being unable to reach a compromise and they assume that means both sides are to blame.

This dynamic gives Republicans a massive political incentive to actively cause gridlock. As long as most people blame both sides equally, Republicans won’t pay a political price for causing gridlock while political benefiting from the effects that gridlock causes. When the government fails to work most blame the party in power, which is interpreted as the party which controls the White House. In the minds of many voters, the buck stops with the President.