Where Republicans will hurt the most in the next few years

The two lowest favorable ratings the Republican Party had during the Bush administration were 35% in 2006, when Democrats won a majority of seats in the House and Senate, and 32% in 2008, when Democrats expanded those majorities and Barack Obama won the White House.

Now it’s closer to 24%.

There’s no good news in polls for Republicans anymore. The Tea Party is more unpopular than ever before. The more people learn about Ted Cruz, the more they dislike him. President Obama’s job approval is up and Americans want Democrats to control Congress next year by the largest margin either party has had since 2009.

42% believe the economy will get worse over the next year, up from 24% last month. Americans blame Republicans over Obama for the shutdown 53-31, more than blamed the GOP for the 1995 and 1996 shutdowns. 31% say they or someone they know has been affected by the shutdown, up from 18% in 1995 and 1996. 46% say it’s a serious problem, up from 29% in 1995.

It actually gets worse from there. 51% believe President Obama is putting politics ahead of what’s best for the country, but 70% say that of Republicans. 38% say Obamacare is a “good idea”, 43% say it’s a “bad idea”. But that’s an eight point net gain for “good” from last month. Obamacare is actually more popular now than it was before the shutdown.

Americans oppose defunding Obamacare 50-39, and 13% more jump ship on the defund side if it means continuing the shutdown, 63-26.

None of that should surprise anyone. The Republican Party has been unpopular since the Bush administration and a GOP-controlled Congress invaded and occupied Iraq. It wasn’t all that popular even in 2010. GOP favorability never hit 50% even when it gained all those House seats, thanks in large part to gerrymandering, but also from falling Democratic popularity.

Obsession with the Affordable Care Act, abortion, and tax cuts for the wealthy lead them to sound defeats in 2012 and Republicans have done nothing to change course since then. Supposed moderates like Marco Rubio have disappeared while even spring-time hard liners like Rand Paul have taken a back seat.

Because of that gerrymandering, I don’t know if Republicans will lose the House next year, but I’m feeling pretty confident that they will lose seats in that chamber for the fourth time in five elections.

What we’re probably looking at now is another 2012 — how much damage will the GOP do to itself in what should be a mathematically friendly cycle. There’s less support for the shutdown in the Senate, but that’s where Ted Cruz is, and Cruz is the face of the shutdown. He could poison the election well for his entire party, if he hasn’t already.

The more macro you go, the more the GOP will feel the pain. Chris Christie doesn’t seem to be on the same page as his party over the shutdown, and he’s their top 2014 candidate, but virtually every other GOP candidate I can think of is going to have shit stains on them from this mess.

It’s amazing that this is happening at all. Don’t forget that with 2010 district lines, Democrats would be running the House this year, not Republicans. They’d have won back control last year with plenty of room to spare. No shutdown and no hostage taking over the debt ceiling.

If Republicans don’t back off, there might not be a national GOP down the road, even with gerrymandering. It is possible that conservatives could pull so far to the right, like they have in North Carolina where huge majorities of voters — including Republicans — oppose budgets, that Republican voters start voting for Democrats at the state level, allowing Democrats to fix district lines.

I know everyone is focused on can Dems win back the House, but that’s the wrong question. The questions are how much damage the GOP will take at the state level from four years of hard-right political crusades, and in the Senate and the White House.

The best answer right now is some. It’s just a matter of how much, and how long will it last before the next election makes it hurt.

Paul Tenny

Paul Tenny

I'm not a journalist but I do it anyway. I cover elections and have interviewed television writers and producers.
Paul Tenny

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