Did the shutdown do lasting damage to the Republican brand? A new poll from CNN shows some short-term damage, at least, in public perception of the party in reference to control of the House. For the first time since winning the majority in 2010, CNN’s polling shows a majority who disapprove of it, and more than 60% want John Boehner out as Speaker:
Just more than half the public says that it’s bad for the country that the GOP controls the House of Representatives, according to a new national poll conducted after the end of the partial government shutdown.
And the CNN/ORC International survey also indicates that more than six in 10 Americans say that Speaker of the House John Boehner should be replaced.
The poll was conducted Friday through Sunday, just after the end of the 16-day partial federal government shutdown that was caused in part by a push by House conservatives to try and dismantle the health care law, which is President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement.
According to the survey, 54% say it’s a bad thing that the GOP controls the House, up 11 points from last December, soon after the 2012 elections when the Republicans kept control of the chamber. Only 38% say it’s a good thing the GOP controls the House, a 13-point dive from the end of last year.
Farther into the piece, we also learn that Barack Obama didn’t fare too well, either. He’s at 44/52 on job approval, which is where he was in this series before the shutdown began. Gallup polling over the weekend has him at 44/50, almost the same, although the Saturday average had him at 42/52. Instead of positioning himself as the adult in the room by encouraging and fostering negotiations, Obama’s job approval eroded significantly in Gallup from 47/46 the week before the shutdown.
Gallup has more bad news for Obama this morning, too. His latest quarterly approval rate fell three points from the previous level. The polling period for the third quarter ended the day before the shutdown:
President Barack Obama averaged a 44.5% job approval rating during his 19th quarter in office, a decline of more than three percentage points from his 18th quarter. That is one of the largest quarter-to-quarter declines of his presidency, behind a nine-point drop in his third quarter and a six-point drop in his 11thquarter.
Most of the days following October 1st gave Obama a lower approval rating than 44.5%, so he’s off to a bad start for Q4.
No one will come out of this unscathed, in other words, but then no one will pay much of a long-term price for it, either. People will remember the shutdown more academically in a few weeks as other stories take precedence in the media, especially with the disaster at HHS in the ObamaCare rollout. This CNN poll lays down a marker with which to compare later polls, and those will focus on more significant long-term issues such as jobs, spending, deficits, and incompetents in the executive branch.
On those issues, Republicans will have an edge — and National Journal’s Michael Hirsh believes that the GOP is already winning on the fiscal fight:
When it comes to policy, it is still the Republicans—that is, the tea party, the GOP’s new beating heart—who are still largely setting the agenda. That’s not about to change. They lost on Obamacare, true enough, and except for a hard-core sub-minority of the tea-party faction, it’s unlikely Republicans will be stupid enough to try to wage that futile fight again. But even with this political setback, the tea partiers have made the sequester and debt-ceiling fights the new normal in Washington, as we will find out again in just a few months when the next deadline is reached.
Indeed, going back to 2010, when the GOP took control of the House, nearly everything has gone or more less the Republicans’ way on fiscal issues—they got the Bush tax cuts locked in (except on the highest earners), government spending reduced, and the sequester imposed. Despite Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s efforts to renegotiate the sequester, Obama in effect has conceded he can live with its across-the-board spending levels: In September, the White House announced it would approve a House Republican spending bill that kept the government funded at current levels as long as language that would defund Obamacare was stripped out.
In a longer time frame, all this must be counted as a victory. Increasingly, the tea party is looking like the Bolsheviks to Boehner’s Mensheviks, with the Democrats playing the role of the wobbly czarist regime (despite Obama’s show of toughness this time around). And if you recall, the Bolsheviks—the most zealous, no-compromise revolutionaries, in other words—were the ones who gained the power in the end. What of the polls and the 2014 election? That’s another reason Democrats are declaring victory, of course. Some are even deliriously sensing a possible takeover of the House. But that’s highly unlikely either, along with the much-hoped-for disappearance of the tea party. Remember: The tea-party adherents in the House just don’t care about the polls. At home, in their scarlet-red districts, they’re still beloved. The only thing most of them worry about is whether they are far-right enough to survive a primary challenge. And as long as the current gerrymandered congressional map remains in place, that’s probably all they’re going to have to worry about.
The Nation’s editorial board reached the same conclusion last week after the end of the shutdown:
Because the deal only includes minor concessions, the Beltway consensus is that it represents a resounding defeat for Republicans, who “surrendered” their original demands to defund or delay Obamacare. In the skirmish of opinion polls, that may be true, for now. But in the war of ideas, the Senate deal is but a stalemate, one made almost entirely on conservative terms. The GOP now goes into budget talks with sequestration as the new baseline, primed to demand longer-term cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. And they still hold the gun of a US default to the nation’s head in the next debt ceiling showdown.
Surrender? Any more “victories” like this and Democrats will end up paying tribute into the GOP’s coffers. …
The GOP may be bearing the brunt of the public’s rage, but anger is also directed at Washington and government generally. Nearly eight in ten say the country is seriously off-track. The Tea Party may be plummeting in public esteem, but it is taking government down with it. There is simply no way to rebuild widely shared prosperity without a government with a clear strategy in the global economy. There is no way to make needed public investments and temper the extreme inequality that threatens our democracy without progressive tax reform. The terms of the Republican “surrender” take us in the wrong direction.
Ahem. The ObamaCare disaster is doing most of the “taking government down with it” work all on its own. The quicker the GOP gets out of the way and allows the public to focus on it, the quicker their poll numbers will rebound, and the faster the big-government project will collapse.