Government shutdown: Most Americans blame Republicans. But will it matter in 2014? (+video)
The last time the government shut down, Republicans were punished at the polls. Political history doesn’t necessary repeat itself, but the GOP should worry about next year’s elections.
For now, at least, congressional Republicans and the White House are talking to – not at – each other, looking for a way to end the government shutdown and avoid a debt ceiling crisis.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Shutdown! Government closed
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But they’re not there yet, and the latest polls confirm the bad news for the GOP: Most Americans are inclined to blame Republicans for the partisan gridlock.
By a 22-point margin (53-31 percent), the public blames the Republican Party more for the shutdown than President Barack Obama, according to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. That’s a wider margin of blame for the GOP than the party received during the last shutdown in 1995-96.
Under more typical circumstances, President Obama wouldn’t be too thrilled with his 47-percent approval rating here. But compared to House Speaker John Boehner (17 percent), Sen. Ted Cruz (14 percent), the Republican Party (24 percent), and the tea party (21 percent), Obama’s number in the NBC/WSJ poll is positively stratospheric.
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Why these worrisome numbers for the GOP?
“The answer is simple,” write Washington Post politics bloggers Chris Cillizza and Sean Sullivan. “The American public views the Republican party’s motives in the shutdown as overwhelmingly political. And looking political is the absolute worst thing that can happen to a political party.”
“To be clear: There are politics – and political calculation – in everything,” Cillizza and Sullivan write. “The trick, however, is to make the other side look like they are on a political mission while you are acting out of some combination of principle and pragmatism. Republicans have lost that fight [70-51 percent in the NBC/WSJ poll] and, in so doing, are watching their brand take a major hit.”
Meanwhile, the poll has some other tidbits that may indicate trends for the short-term political future.
The percentage of those who see the Affordable Care Act as a good idea has edged up from 31-38 percent, and those who oppose defunding “Obamacare” if it means a partial government shutdown has risen from 46-50 percent.