Despite Republican efforts to distance themselves from the government shutdown that they initiated, polls continue to indicate that the GOP is taking the brunt of the political damage for the shutdown, and the impending debt ceiling crisis. A new poll by Democratic-leaning (but dead-on accurate) Public Policy Polling shows more bad news for Republicans, who have experienced a 21 point negative shift in the generic congressional ballot among independents. Republicans are being blamed for the shutdown over Democrats by a 48%-42% margin, but that ratio is 51%-37% among independents.
That doesn’t mean that Republicans in Congress will be getting the message, though. Ironically, the poll also found Congressional Republican’ overall approval rating had improved by a net of ten points, on the strength of a net 14-point positive shift among Republicans. From PPP:
Democrats lead the generic Congressional ballot 46/41, including a 42/33 lead with independents. Independents have shifted 21 points on the generic ballot from July when Republicans had a 39/27 advantage with them. The lean toward Democrats for next year reflects who they blame for the shutdown. By a 51/37 margin they say Republicans are more at fault than Democrats, and by a 57/41 margin they think Congress is more to blame than the President.
Congressional Democrats have a 39/56 approval rating, virtually identical to 39/57 a week ago. Congressional Republicans have actually seen their approval improve since the shutdown though from 23/69 to 29/65. The improvement has mostly come because of the GOP base embracing the shutdown and thus increasing in their approval of the Congressional GOP- they’ve gone from a 45/46 approval with Republican voters up to 52/39.
This poll reflects the reality that shutting down government and messing with Obamacare are like Blue Meth to a large portion of the Republican base, and that this dynamic provides even moderate House Republicans with a perverse incentive not to end the shutdown, or pass a clean increase to the debt ceiling. The way that Congressional districts are drawn, particularly since the 2010 census year Republican sweep, makes it extremely difficult to unseat Republican incumbents, and even the vulnerable ones will have to worry about primary challenges before considering their general election prospects.
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