Hoo boy. When The Washington Post polled the public on how the Republicans were handling budget negotiations on Sept. 29 -- the eve of the shutdown -- the numbers already looked pretty bad for the GOP: 26 percent approved and 63 percent disapproved.

Now they're even worse: 21 percent approve and 74 percent disapprove. Those numbers are barely even comprehensible in a competitive, two-party political system. I'd say the GOP's numbers can't fall much farther, but then I never thought they could fall this far to begin with.

Neither congressional Democrats nor President Obama have seen so much drift. Democrats have watched their disapproval rating rise by five points to 61 percent, while their approval rating has remained virtually unchanged at 33 percent. Obama has seen his disapproval rating rise by three points to 53 percent and approval hold at 42 percent.

Bn comparison: In the last two weeks the GOP lost five points in approval and gained 11 points in disapproval.

No one involved in this mess is particularly popular. But a two-party political system with first-past-the-post elections is a zero-sum affair. And Republicans are not only less popular than Democrats, their popularity is falling faster than Democrats'. They are, in other words, losing, and badly. Which explains why Senate Republicans are so eager to cut a deal that reopens the government and forestalls any debt-ceiling disasters.