September 30, 2013

Senate Dems today flatly rejected the House GOP measure funding the government while delaying Obamacare for a year, kicking the ball back on to House GOP turf. House Republicans promptly announced they would hold another vote on a measure funding the government – this time with a delay of the individual mandate attached, along with a provision nixing Obamacare subsidies for Members of Congress and staff. Harry Reid then promptly said this will be a nonstarter, too.

And in the midst of all this, new Washington Post/ABC News polling finds overwhelming public disapproval of the GOP’s handling of negotiations over the budget. Only 26 percent of Americans approve, versus 63 percent who disapprove. Among independents, those numbers are 21-66; among moderates they are 22-66.

Obama is by no means in great shape here, but he’s faring significantly better than Republicans are. Forty one percent approve of his handling of the budget talks, versus 50 percent who disapprove. His approval among independents is in the mid-thirties, and among moderates its in the mid-forties. There is no question Obama will take a hit if there is a government shutdown and/or default. But he is not up for reelection, and the woefully low numbers among Republicans — coming before a shutdown or default — suggest they’ll truly hit bottom if either one actually happens.

And yet, despite the extraordinary lengths House Republicans are going to in order to use the budget showdown to block, delay, undermine, and stymie Obamacare. it still may not be enough for the GOP base.

Our poll finds that Republicans approve of the GOP’s handling of the budget talks by 56-38 — meaning more than a third disapprove. And there’s even an intensity gap here — one that favors liberal Democrats over conservative Republicans. The Post polling team tells me that conservative Republicans approve of the GOP’s handling by 61-35 — again meaning more than a third disapprove — while liberal Dems approve of Obama’s handling of it by 79-16.

And only 24 percent of conservative Republicans strongly approve of the GOP’s handling, while 48 percent of liberal Democrats — twice as high — strongly approve of Obama’s.

John Boehner is now saying there will be no House GOP vote on a “clean CR” temporarily funding the government at sequester levels, meaning a shutdown is virtually guaranteed. The continued less-than-intense support for GOP leaders even among Republicans may be exactly why Boehner and company see no alternative but to forge ahead with a shutdown. But it’s unclear whether even this — or any level of resistance, really – will be enough for the GOP base.

Greg Sargent writes The Plum Line blog, a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant -- what you might call “opinionated reporting” from the left.