Paying for the shutdown in terms of popularity


Dana Benelli , Staff Writer

Approval ratings for both Democrats and Republicans have dropped post-shutdown, but the Republican party’s decline in particular may affect the 2014 Senate elections.

A series of public opinion polls during the last two weeks signify that Republicans have taken most of the blame for the shutdown situation, with 63 percent of respondents to a CNN/ORC poll expressing anger towards the Grand Old Party (GOP). A slightly lower 58 percent expressed anger towards Democrats, while 53 percent did so towards President Barack Obama.

Furthermore, an NBC/WSJ poll found that only 24 percent of respondents have a favorable opinion of the GOP while 21 percent have a favorable opinion of the Tea Party, both of which are record lows since the poll began.

Republican Senator John McCain called the negative turn for his party “devastating.”

Additional polls show that Republican efforts to shut down the government with the goals of defunding the Affordable Care Act (or “Obamacare”) and limiting government appear to have backfired, with 38 percent now viewing Obamacare as a “good idea” compared to 31 percent last month. A slight majority (52 to 44 percent) believes the government should do more to solve problems, up from an even 48-48 percent split in June.

Republican pollster Bill MicInturff called the reversal “an ideological boomerang,” according to NBC News, and said “If there is a break, there is a break against the Republican position.”

The shutdown struggle also showcased the inner rift between majority Republicans and the Tea Party, a struggle that news organizations have dubbed a “civil war.”

In 2010 the rise of the Tea Party in response to health care law and bank bailouts gave Republicans the momentum needed to take control of the House of Representatives, but now “a lot of mainstream Republicans are starting to worry that Tea Party Republicans are costing the party more than the support they bring in,” said Jack Pitney, a professor at California’s Claremont McKenna College.

A Pew Research Center survey supports this claim, showing a dive to 27 percent of moderate and liberal Republicans who have a favorable opinion the Tea Party compared to 46 percent in June.

However, the Tea Party remains undeterred.

Proponent Senator Ted Cruz has gained national attention from his actions during the shutdown and told ABC news on Thursday that he “would do anything, and I will continue to do anything I can, to stop the train wreck that is Obamacare.” Cruz also stated that he would not rule out the possibility of another shutdown.

Tea party groups might also challenge other Republicans for Senate seats in 2014 according to Jenny Beth Martin, national coordinator for Tea Party Patriots. “I expect tea party groups will be very active next year,” said Martin.

The presence of the Tea Party and the current decline in support for Republicans may enable Democrats to reclaim the House in addition to maintaining control of the Senate. Controlling both the House and Senate would allow the Democratic party to pass laws and promote its agenda with greater ease.

Stuart Rothenburg, Editor of “The Rothenberg Political Report,” said that the GOP is being perceived as “a chaotic, disorganized, confused party,” and predicts negative effects on its fundraising capabilities as well.

“Big dollar donors […] are now worried about where the party is going,” said Rothenburg. “For Democrats, this helps them for 2014 in recruitment, in fundraising and in overall morale.”

The 2014 United States elections will be held on Nov. 4, 2014. All 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 33 of the 100 seats in the Senate will be contested, according to Wikipedia’s “United States elections, 2014” page.

The seal of the United States Senate