WaPo/ABC News Poll: 20% of Americans Think Republicans Doing What’s Best for Country

It’s just one number in the latest gut-punch of a poll for Republicans, but it speaks volumes: just 20% of Americans think Republicans are interested in doing what’s best for the country, according to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll. That, as much as anything else, explains the rest of the deadly numbers in this poll, and in others, which indicate that the just-ended government shutdown is as close to an extinction level event for Republicans as we’ve ever seen.

On that same question, 51% of Americans said that President Obama was interested in doing what’s best for the country, versus 46% who think he’s doing what’s best for himself politically. His approval rating, at 48% approval versus 49% disapproval, is basically unchanged from a month ago, but Americans trust the President to find “the right balance between cutting government spending that is not needed and continuing government spending that is needed” over Republicans by a 47% to 36% margin. Furthermore, 59% of Americans believe that a combination of spending cuts and tax revenues are needed to reduce the deficit, versus 37% who favor spending cuts only.

The slew of polls during and after the government shutdown have had Democrats dreaming of a wave election in 2014, despite an uphill battle against low midterm turnout and gerrymandering. A PPP poll from two weeks ago showed Democrats with a five point lead on the generic congressional ballot, including a nine point advantage with independents. To put that in perspective, though, Democrats actually held a slim lead in the generic congressional ballot on election day 2012. At this time in 2011, Democrats were up by about two points in the generic congressional vote.

When asked if the election for the U.S. House of Representatives were being held today, would you vote for (the Democratic candidate) or (the Republican candidate) in your congressional district, 49% said they would vote for the Democrat, versus 38% for the Republican, an 11 point spread. Among independents, the split was 46% Democratic, 35% Republican.

Ironically, the good news in this poll for Republicans may be the rest of the bad news. On the subject of the government shutdown, Americans were loud and clear that they did not like it (17% approved of the shutdown), and that they blamed Republicans for it (53%, versus 29% who blamed the President). Those numbers show that the Republicans made a huge mistake, but could also indicate that the damage may be temporary. If they can avoid shutting the government down again, or defaulting on our debt, and maybe get an accomplishment like comprehensive immigration reform into the hopper, who knows?

Unfortunately, Americans are not confident that the Republicans have learned their lesson. Just 27% said they were confident that the President and Republicans will avoid another budget crisis over the debt limit.

[photo via Jeff Cameron Collingwood/Shutterstock]

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