The new polls are out. Republican dysfunction continues to take its toll on their party. Their approval rates have fallen precipitously. The President’s poll numbers have stayed surprisingly constant. The Democrats poll numbers have fallen as well. They have fallen nearly as much as the Republican numbers. Americans were not happy with the government shutdown.
Three new polls were released in the last couple of days, CNN/ORC, Washington Post-ABC, & USA TODAY/Princeton Survey Research Poll. The polls indicate that the Republican dysfunction problem is much deeper than just the shutdown. This has not been explored much by the networks that have been ‘interpreting’ the polls for mass consumption.
The Washington Post-ABC poll is the most telling. The headline numbers by now are well known. President Obama is about even for handling his job (48/49 approve/disapprove). This is much better than Congress as a whole (12/85). The President is somewhat under water on Americans’ approval on his handling of the budget negotiations (43/54). This however is better than the poll numbers for Democrats (36/61). It is much better than the poll numbers for Republicans (21/77).
Most Americans believe the country is going in the wrong direction (28/68). President Obama is underwater on his handling of the economy somewhat (44/54). However the numbers indicate he is not taking the brunt of Americans' justifiable angst.
Poll Reflects Republican Dysfunction
The President’s favorability is above water (50/48). That is better than the Democratic Party which is about even at (46/49). It is much better than the Republican Party (32/63). On deeper examination of the crosstabs, a larger percentage of Republicans had a favorable impression of Democrats than Democrats of Republicans. A much larger percentage of Independents had a favorable impression of the Democrats than of the Republicans. This is most likely the result of the Republican dysfunction. It is not likely to abate anytime soon.
There is a very troublesome part of this poll that many will not report. Americans do not make much of a distinction between the Republican Party and its Tea Party wing.
Most ominous for Republicans is the fact that most Americans think President Obama wants to do what is best for Americans (52/46). They do not believe the same about Republicans. They believe Republicans are interested in what is best for them politically (20/77).
It gets worse. 87% of Americans believe that the government shutdown is not an isolated incident. They believe it is a broader problem. 68% of Americans believe the government shutdown was mostly the fault of Republicans. 53% thought it was fully their fault. 86% believe the shutdown damaged the United States’ image overseas. 82% believe the shutdown has damaged the morale of federal workers. 80% believe the shutdown has damaged the economy. By inference, Americans will hold Republicans accountable for any economic slowdown. They will blame them for any short term international damage.
The poll has an electoral message for Republicans. 66% of Americans now want to shop around. They will not blindly elect their current representative. By an 11% margin they want a Democrat over a Republican representing their congressional district.
Both the President and Republicans must take heed. Americans are well aware of the Republican dysfunction. The President must negotiate budget and deficit deals from a position of strength. He is trusted much more than Republicans are. Republicans must adopt a spirit of compromise. Americans support the President’s balanced approach by substantial margins (59/37). Americans support the President’s stance on not using the debt ceiling as a tool in budget negotiations (54/40).
Americans are cocked and ready to penalize Republican dysfunction. Republicans do not believe in government. It seems Americans are ready to give them their wish.