October 9, 2013

Lots of chatter about today’s Gallup poll finding that the favorability rating of the GOP has plunged to 28 percent, its lowest point ever, and the lowest point ever for either party:

GOP favorability hits record low
Source: Gallup

You’ll note that the only other time the GOP’s favorability ratings sank almost this low was in the beginning of 1999. I asked Gallup for a more fine grained breakdown of the data.

It turns out the GOP’s favorability rating hit 31 percent on December 19th and 20th of 1998. Those are the same two days the House GOP debated on and voted to impeach Bill Clinton. The very same two days.

And so the GOP’s favorability rating is now in the same territory as it was on those two days — or perhaps even lower.

This is only one poll, and to be sure, other polls — while also finding serious problems for Republicans — have shown mixed signals on what’s happening. There’s little doubt that Obama, too, will take a hit as this crisis continues. But Republicans look likely to take a much bigger hit.

There’s also the oft-repeated caveat that individual House Republicans don’t need to concern themselves with numbers like these, since all that matters to them is what their own constituents think. But we could be seeing another instance where the degree to which these lawmakers in safe districts are insulated from broader currents of national opinion is precisely the reason why the party is seemingly unable to avoid dragging down its national appeal, whatever the consequences end up being in future elections.

I’ll be very interested to see what the GOP-connected reporters tell us in the days ahead about what party strategists are really thinking about numbers such as these.

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