That's been my impression of the coverage of the shutdown: The folks you see on TV are much too sure of themselves. They've been making too much of thin slices of polling and thinner historical precedents that might not apply this time around. There's been plenty of bull****, in other words. We really don't know all that much about how the shutdown is going to be resolved, or how the long-term political consequences are going to play out.
So what can we say? What follows are a series of points that I consider to be on relatively firm ground. Some are critiques of the conventional wisdom; some are points of context; some concern relatively fine details of the situation; some are obvious things that I don't think have been emphasized quite enough. None of them constitute a prediction of how the shutdown is going to turn out, or exactly what the political fallout will be. But perhaps they can serve as useful guidance as you read coverage of the shutdown elsewhere.
1. The media is probably overstating the magnitude of the shutdown's political impact.
2. The impact of the 1995-96 shutdowns is overrated in Washington's mythology.
3. Democrats face extremely unfavorable conditions in trying to regain the House.
4. The polling data on the shutdown is not yet all that useful, and we lack data on most important measures of voter preferences.
5. President Obama's change in tactics may be less about a change of heart and more about a change in incentives.
6. The increasing extent of GOP partisanship is without strong recent precedent, and contributes to the systemic uncertainty about political outcomes.