For Republicans, the last 10 days have felt like falling down a darkened elevator shaft: You want to hit bottom, but wonder about the odds of survival.
In what has become an almost daily occurrence, Thursday night brought another poll showing the damage the party has suffered as a result of the government shutdown. A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that the party’s popularity had dropped and Americans were far more likely to blame them for the goings-on in Washington than their Democratic opponents.
— Only 24% of Americans had a favorable view of Republicans, the lowest figure in the poll’s multi-year history and four percentage points lower than last month. Another low: only 21% had a favorable view of the Tea Party.
— President Obama’s standing was relatively stable, the pollsters said, moving from 45% favorable last month to 47% now, within the poll’s margin of error of 3.5 points. Democrats overall were at 39% positive, with congressional Democrats at 36%.
— 70% of Americans said Republicans were putting politics ahead of what was best for the country. A lesser 51% said that about Obama.
… But underlying poll conclusions suggested that recovery will not be easy. Despite a concerted GOP effort to blame Democrats for the shutdown, Americans blamed Republicans by a 22-percentage-point margin (53% to 31%). During the last government shutdowns in the Clinton administration, the pollsters noted, Republicans received less blame, but even that was politically damaging because it helped Clinton win reelection.
Voters typically are more critical of Congress as a body than of their own member of Congress — but the trend in the poll on a question about the 2014 campaigns followed the direction of everything else: Last month, voters preferred a Democratically-controlled Congress to the present Republican House by 3 percentage points. This month, the difference is 8 points.