Thursday's release of the NBC-Wall Street Journal poll stunned the political world as it revealed a Republican party at record low approval ratings and bearing the brunt of the blame for the now 11 day old shutdown of the federal government. Bill McInturff, the Republican pollster who along with Peter Hart, a Democrat, conducts the NBC-WSJ survey offered a few thoughts on what the numbers showed for his side in a memo emailed to his clients on Friday morning. With Bill's permission, we have excerpted portions of that memo below.
Overall, this is among the handful of surveys that stand out in my career as being significant and consequential, so, I wanted to make sure you had an opportunity to review the survey.
I would also say this about my general experience with this type of data – 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, Lehman collapse, debt ceiling in 2011 – once there is this level of movement and change, it takes months for things to settle down in a way that is stable and easier to understand. This type of data creates ripples that will take a long time to resolve and there will be unexpected changes we cannot predict at the moment as a consequence.
From a Republican perspective, there is comfort though that the next federal election is a year plus away. Whether it be the impeachment vote in early 1999 or the use of force votes about Iraq, there have been episodes people assumed would drive the next election, but those votes/events were so far from the election they simply were not a factor by the next election.
One needs to recognize how important these numbers are about what is, at best, described as unstable terrain.