Right now, the biggest question about the government shutdown is which party’s incompetence will doom them first.

Things only got this far in the first place because Republicans have done so little to make sure the endless stream of bad news about ObamaCare reaches as many voters as possible. When Mitt Romney lost the election partly because he refused to get specific about the law, it should have been a wakeup call. Yet between then and Ted Cruz finally forcing the GOP to stand for something, the party has mostly let Democrats define the national conversation.

Even as the liberal House Majority PAC runs ads targeting John Boehner and House Republicans as “crybabies,” we’ve heard nothing about a counter effort to saturate TV screens and newspaper pages with the litany of doctors who warn that healthcare’s about to go downhill, the hundreds of businesses forced to slash jobs and hours, the choices Americans are about to lose, or the premiums going stratospheric. (Forget auditing the Fed—I want somebody to audit the RNC, so we can find out just how Reince Priebus is wasting supporters’ money.)

Which is why it’s so amazing that, despite the one-sided media impression the general public is seeing, they’ve come to hate ObamaCare all on their own. National Review’s Jeffrey Anderson points out that a staggering 95% of the polls taken since ObamaCare’s passage are against it—and over 60% by double-digit margins.

If Romney had really hammered ObamaCare every day of the race, he could very well have signed its repeal in January. And barring that, if Republicans had spent every day since then publicizing as many of the law’s threats as possible, they absolutely could have scared enough Democrats into flipping the Senate and isolating Obama.

His healthcare boondoggle’s popularity is only going down as people grapple with unworkable exchange sites and premiums they never imagined—just imagine how much stronger a position Republicans would be in if they’d spent the past year telling independents, undecideds, and blue-dog Democrats this was going to happen.

It’s true that Americans aren’t as sold on shutting the government down over it, but that’s where the Democrats come in. Even without Republicans laying the groundwork, the Dems have provided more than enough material to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

We have the feds spending more money to lock up parks and monuments than it costs to keep them open. We have the Senate Majority Leader on video asking “why would we want to” continue funding child cancer treatments during an impasse over a single controversial piece of legislation. We have a White House memo explicitly stating the “determination of which services continue during an appropriations lapse is not affected by whether the costs of shutdown exceed the costs of maintaining services.” And we have a Park Service ranger openly saying “We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can.”

Of course, we all knew the Demagogue-in-Chief would respond by fear mongering about all the vital services that a shutdown would devastate, but did anyone imagine he and his thugs would overplay their hand so soon and so clumsily?

No political strategist worth his paycheck would dare dream for a more perfect storm of material to work with. The ads practically write themselves—just list the administration’s above sins, and juxtapose them with Obama and Reid’s knee-jerk rejection of the various funding resolutions the House has sent the Senate. Rinse, repeat, and watch the liberals squirm as they get a taste of their own medicine.

It should be so easy…but frustratingly, it’s still a toss-up who will ultimately take the blame, because ideas like “tell people what’s actually happening” are too complex for a Republican establishment that would rather just get a meaningless fig-leaf concession that lets them save face while surrendering. Now it’ll depend on Team Cruz’s ability to rally enough lawmakers to stand firm and disseminate enough of the truth to not merely hold the line against the “obstructionist Republican” narrative, but supplant it.