The three biggest ways the government shutdown has hurt the GOP’s image

October 10, 2013

No matter how you slice it, the ongoing federal government shutdown has been bad news for the Republican Party's image.

Why? Three reasons stand out.

1. The GOP has been getting more blame. No matter how the question is asked, poll after poll since the shutdown started on Oct. 1 has shown Republicans getting lower marks than Democrats for its handling of the issues tied to the shutdown. A Pew Research Center poll found more Americans blaming Republicans than Democrats; a Washington Post-ABC News poll showed Americans' disapproval of the GOP's handling of the budget negotiations climbed to 70 percent, compared to 51 percent for President Obama; and an AP-GfK survey showed the public holds the GOP more responsible for the shutdown than Obama or congressional Democrats.


The blame game isn't nearly as lopsided against Republicans as it was during the shutdowns of 1995-1996, when nearly twice as many Americans blamed Republicans as blamed then-President Clinton. But for a party trying to rebuild its brand after a disappointing election, not-as-bad-as-the-last-time is far from desireable.

2. Favorability is in the toilet. A Gallup poll taken in the days after the shutdown started showed the Republican Party's favorable rating had fallen to 28 percent -- the lowest since Gallup started measuring it 21 years ago and a 10 point drop from the previous month. Democrats aren't exactly glowing, it's worth noting. But the party's 43 percent favorable rating is substantially better than the GOP's.

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3. The shutdown has stoked intraparty tension. Republicans have been harder on themselves than Democrats have during the shutdown. Thirty-five percent of Republicans held their own party responsible for the shutdown in the Ap-GfK poll, compared to 28 percent of Democrats who said the same thing. And Republicans are more than twice as likely to hold an unfavorable view of their own party as Democrats are, the Gallup poll showed. The last thing the GOP needs as it seeks to unify, expand its reach and attract new voters is anger directed inward. But that's the reality of what it's dealing with.


Fixbits: 

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is set to warn lawmakers Thursday that he won't be able to guarantee payments to any group without a debt limit increase.

Obama is set to meet with Boehner and his top deputies Thursday.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) had some tough words for Obama.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) visited with Senate leaders.

Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.) is retiring. Democrats will now be able to compete for his seat.

Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) and former Bogota mayor Steve Lonegan traded jabs at a heated New Jersey Senate debate. Meanwhile, Sarah Palin will stump for Lonegan on Saturday.

The Republican National Committee funneled $500,000 to Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli (R).

Is the Senate "nuclear option" on the table in debate over the debt ceiling?

Louisiana state Rep. Alan Seabaugh (R) said he is seriously considering a Senate run and doesn't believe Rep. Bill Cassidy (R) is conservative enough to win.

Must-reads:

"Key Republicans signal willingness to back down on effort to defund health-care law" -- Karen Tumulty and Tom Hamburger, Washington Post

"Republicans Using Shutdown to Stake Positions for Potential 2016 Bids" -- Jonathan Martin, New York Times

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