Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), speaks to the media, accompanied by Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Tex.),  Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), John Thune (R-S.D.), and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), on Capitol Hill in September. (Alex Brandon/Associated Press)

The Suffolk/USA Today poll reports:

Voters’ assessment of the Republican Party has plummeted to 62 percent unfavorable/23 percent favorable, significantly changed from the 55 percent unfavorable/32 percent favorable registered in a June poll conducted by the Suffolk University Political Research Center. The Democratic Party recorded a 48 percent unfavorable/37 percent favorable rating in the most recent poll.

“The Republican Party is in freefall,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “In March the GOP had a 48 percent unfavorable rating, in June the negative swelled to 55 percent. Today the GOP unfavorable is 62 percent. What’s next?”

This matches Republicans’ own, increasingly negative view of their own party.

As interesting as the general direction of the GOP’s favorability is the degree to which President Trump and the GOP have shored up Democrats’ position on issues. For example: “The poll found that 43 percent of voters trust congressional Democrats to protect the interests of their families when it comes to health care, while 15 percent trust Trump, and less than 10 percent look to Republicans. Forty-five percent said that Congress should leave the framework of the Affordable Care Act intact but fix any problems, while 14 percent said to retain it as is.”

Then there is North Korea. The president tells hapless Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson that he is “wasting” time on diplomatic discussions with Pyongyang. Voters however overwhelmingly favor a diplomatic approach. (“More than 61 percent of respondents said that the United States should pursue diplomacy rather than undertake military action. And 69 percent said that the U.S. should take military action only in response to an attack, while 15 percent said that the U.S. should strike preemptively.”)

Most critically for the GOP, voters favor by a wide margin — 56 to 33 percent — a Congress that mostly stands up to Trump rather than one that mostly cooperates with him. In other words, basically everything the GOP has been doing — running interference for Trump, trying to repeal Obamacare, defending Trump’s rhetoric on North Korea — is wildly unpopular.

You can imagine Democrats (if they are savvy enough) running on a platform of fixing Obamacare and checking Trump’s actions in general and on foreign policy in particular (by a 57 percent to 31 percent margin voters have an unfavorable view of Trump’s handling of foreign policy). Republicans in swing districts or states would be well advised to put distance between themselves and Trump and, in the wake of their disastrous attempt to repeal Obamacare, get on board with some bipartisan fix of the type Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) have been pursuing.

With numbers like this, Republicans had better not have a second legislative debacle. That’s precisely where they are heading if they insist on pursuing a tax plan like the one the administration has put out, which is so obviously titled toward the rich and fiscally irresponsible. Those seen fighting back, in favor of a middle-class tax break or even just a revenue neutral corporate tax reform may be seen much more favorable than if they are seen as rubber-stamping Trump’s give-away to the rich. That of course may make it very difficult to accomplish anything (since hardliners want a gigantic tax cut) but at this rate bucking the president may be the safest course for Republicans at risk in 2018.