Ted Cruz and his fellow tea partiers have done tremendous damage to the Republican Party brand. If I were sociopathic and didn’t care about my country, it would almost be enough to make me hope that they do it again a little closer to Election Day.
The question before the House, though, so to speak, is whether something shifted in the national psyche this past month. Did this stunt that brought the global economy to the brink of a catastrophic collapse deeply alter the public’s views of politics in ways that will last? My hope is yes, unless the Obama administration’s rank incompetence on its highest domestic priority might rescue the GOP from the oblivion it so richly deserves. What gives that hope some evidentiary clout are, to my mind, the following pieces of polling evidence: Independents now favor the Dems over the GOP by 46 – 35 percent; only one in five think Republicans are “interested in doing what’s best for the country,” while 77 percent think they’re “interested in what’s best for themselves politically.” As Sargent notes, among independents, that number is a staggering 14-83. Among moderates 18-81. Among seniors – yes, seniors – 24-74.
So you have a big majority blaming the GOP for the shutdown and near-default; and you have a massive majority (80 percent) believing the shutdown and near-default were bad for the country; and you have a massive majority believing that the GOP is a cynical exercize in partisanship as opposed to a party offering solutions to public problems in good faith.
Now, I’ve reluctantly come to believe all of this over the past ten years or so, but never has there been such an amen chorus. It could be that we just had an aha! moment about the degeneracy of the political right that could shape future politics the way the Gingrich shutdown did. For me, it makes backing Republicans next year unthinkable – and electing a Democratic House a win-win for the country and, perversely, for the cause of GOP reform in the long run. Could that judgment begin to entrench itself among the public as a whole?
Nate Cohn also analyzes the post-shutdown polling:
Last night, two surveys from CNN and ABC/Washington Post showed Democrats building an 8 point lead on the generic ballot; if Democrats could win the popular vote by such a wide margin, they would be well positioned to retake the House. But those 8 point leads might not be as strong as they look. These are polls of registered voters, not likely voters. And once the pollsters apply likely voter screens, the Democratic edge will narrow.