The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Poll: Republicans losing no-win game

All of Washington's elected leaders earn negative marks for handling budget negotiations, but the public's ire toward Republicans in Congress has hardened quicker than disapproval of President Obama and Democrats through a fortnight of failed negotiations.

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds nearly three quarters of Americans disapprove of the way Republicans in Congress are handling negotiations over the budget (74 percent), up from 63 percent since the start of the shutdown after hitting 70 percent last week. Disapproval of congressional Democrats has also risen by a smaller amount -- 56 to 61 percent -- since the shutdown began, owing in large part to greater approval among fellow Democrats.

Political independents are the most frustrated: 58 percent of independents disapprove of Obama, 68 percent are unhappy with congressional Democrats and 76 percent disapprove of congressional Republicans.

President Obama and Democrats fare better, but are both clearly negative. After a brief uptick last week, Obama's ratings for handling budget negotiations are once again clearly negative, with 42 percent now approving and 53 percent disapproving. Obama now stands essentially where he did two weeks ago, when 41 percent approved and 50 percent disapproved of his handling of budget talks.

Republicans are suffering from a continued weakness among fellow partisans, with 49 percent of self-identified Republicans approving and 47 percent disapproving of the job their party's members of Congress are doing. Democrats are far less mutinous. Over six in 10 Democrats approve of the job their members are doing, and over seven in 10 Democrats approve of Obama.

Even among Republicans who approve of their leaders, intensity is lacking. Just 27 percent of Republicans "strongly approve" of Republicans in Congress' handling of budget negotiations. That compares with 48 percent strong approval of Obama among Democrats.

An ideological split within the GOP accounts for the soft ratings for Republicans among their own party members. Some 63 percent of Republicans who describe themselves as "very conservative" approve of their members of Congress, using two weeks of combined polls. But approval falls below half among Republicans who are just "somewhat conservative," with 48 percent approving and 49 percent disapproving.

The few Republicans who identify as moderate or liberal disapprove on balance by 53 percent to 42 percent approval of their own party, using combined data from two weeks of interviews.