The GOP’s narcissism problem

October 22, 2013

During the government shutdown, Democrats accused Republicans of waging a politically craven effort to undercut Obamacare at the nation’s expense.

As it turns out, Republicans agree.

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll includes a stunning little tidbit: A majority of Republicans think their party’s congressional members are more interested in doing what’s best for themselves (51 percent) rather than doing what’s best for the country (46 percent).

When you throw in independents who lean toward the GOP, 58 percent say the GOP is more apt to do what’s politically advantageous rather than what’s best for the country.

By contrast, 66 percent of self-identified Democrats say their party is more interested in doing what's best for the country, versus 32 percent who think it’s in it for the wrong reasons.

Now, to some extent, this is about unhappiness with Congress. Americans of both parties don’t have much patience for what leaders of both parties have done (or failed to do) in recent weeks, and that’s going to manifest itself in any polling question you ask -- even about leaders of one’s own party.

But more than that, this is about the increasingly significant divide in the governing philosophy of the Republican Party.

The fact that most Republicans see their party as politically self-interested is driven in large part by those in the party who don’t support the tea party. Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of these non-tea party supporters see the GOP looking out for its own interests, first and foremost.

Tea party supporters are less certain on this point, splitting 51 to 45 percent between seeing political motivations and what’s good for the country.

In other words, a large swath of the GOP sees the party waging political battles that are not in the interest of the nation but instead aimed at political goals. And after the latest government standoff led by tea party-affiliated lawmakers, non-tea party Republicans are especially concerned.

All of these numbers, undoubtedly, will return somewhat more to normal after the shutdown and debt ceiling debates fades from memory.

But for a party trying to build its case for returning to the White House in 2016, the fact that even its own adherents don't trust its motivations right now suggests that's going to be a tough slog.

Fixbits: 

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius will testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Oct. 30.

The White House wouldn't say whether glitches with the health-care law's Web site will delay the individual mandate.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's super PAC will spend $1.1 million on ads for Virginia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe during the final two weeks of the campaign.

A new poll shows Democrat Bill de Blasio dominating in the New York City Mayor' race.

Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton will be in Chicago on Oct. 28 to keynote a fundraiser for the Jewish United Fund.

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) downplayed the influence of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.).

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky. ) introduced a constitutional amendment that would preclude lawmakers from passing new laws that don't equally impact Congress, the executive branch and the Supreme Court and other U.S. citizens.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) has a strong 57 percent favorable rating and leads potential GOP challengers in a new WMUR Granite State poll. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) has a 41 percent approval rating, with 31 percent disapproving.

The widow of the late-Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.) told Charlie Crist to stay away from the memorial service honoring the long-serving congressman.

Must-reads: 

"Health insurance exchange launched despite signs of serious problems" -- Lena H. Sun and Scott Wilson, Washington Post

"5 Obamacare questions Kathleen Sebelius won’t answer" -- Brett Norman and Jason Millman, Politico

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Chris Cillizza · October 21, 2013