The Washington Post reports, based on a Washington Post-ABC News poll, that the recent budget confrontation and partial government shutdown “dealt a major blow to the GOP’s image”. The survey results support this statement.
53 percent of poll respondents considered Republicans responsible for the impasse — of which 80 percent disapproved — while only 29 percent blame Obama. 15 percent fault both sides equally.
The poll also finds clear evidence of damage to the Republican brand. Only 32 percent of respondents say they have a favorable opinion of the GOP. 63 percent say they have an unfavorable view. This is the worst Republican showing in the history of the Post-ABC survey.
But buried at the end of the Post’s story is this:
In many ways, what has happened in the aftermath of the shutdown is a repeat of the damage that occurred two years ago after a long fight over raising the debt ceiling led to a messy and mostly inconclusive agreement.
Three-quarters of all Americans say they are dissatisfied with the way the political system is working, and four in 10 say they are very dissatisfied. That level of dissatisfaction is only a few points lower than it was in the late summer of 2011.
Yet in 2012, the electorate voted for the status quo, reelecting the president and leaving the Senate and House in the same hands as before.
Consider too that the Post’s numbers following the most recent shutdown are almost the same as those associated with the shutdown in early 1996. Then, 50 percent blamed Republicans and only 27 percent blamed Bill Clinton. Yet, that year the Dems gained only two House seats (net) from the Republicans, who retained an overall majority of seats in the House for the first time since the Great Depression. Meanwhile, the Republicans gained two Senate seats (net). And these results were in the context of a presidential election won handily by the Democrat.
What’s the lesson? It’s that, while we Republicans shouldn’t be sanguine about the electoral implications of the latest shutdown, neither should we be spooked.