Government Shutdown 2013: Republican Party Hits Record Low Approval, Poll Finds

 @pemalevy
on October 10 2013 7:37 PM
  • US Gov rally Calif 10Oct2013
    Demonstrators hold up signs at an education and awareness event on the Affordable Care Act and protest against Tea Party officials they say are threatening an economic shutdown, in Santa Monica, California, October 10, 2013. Reuters
  • Government Shutdown Has Affected Auto Recalls
    Auto recalls have been halted as a result of the government shutdown. (Pictured) A protester holds up a sign calling for an end to the U.S. government shutdown on Capitol Hill in Washington, Oct. 10. Reuters
  • Boehner 10Oct2013
    House Speaker John Boehner, D- Ohio. Reuters
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Now in week two of the government shutdown, the Republican Party is taking most of the blame and has hit a record low approval rating, according to a poll from the Wall Street Journal and NBC News released Thursday evening.

“Participants in the poll gave the Republican Party overall its lowest marks in the history of Journal polling, which goes back to 1989: More than twice as many hold a negative view of the GOP as a positive one,” the Journal’s report states. Only 24 percent of respondents had a favorable opinion about the GOP, just 21 percent approved of the tea party.

The poll reinforced what previous polls have found: that Republicans who refused to pass a spending bill to fund the government without also defunding the health care reform law are being blamed for the mess. In fact, the poll showed that while the GOP’s numbers are dropping, President Obama’s are actually moving up from 45 percent last month to 47 percent this month. 

Even Republicans are pretty unhappy with how their party is handling the situation. A whopping 70 percent of respondents said the GOP was “putting their political agenda ahead of what's good for the country” in the current budget battle. The poll showed that a plurality of Republicans, or 40 percent, believe this is the case, while more than a third disapproved of the job Republicans in Congress are doing.

The Democratic Party is doing better, though not great, in the eyes of the public, with about 40 percent approving of the party and 40 percent disapproving. Looking ahead to next year's midterm elections, the poll had good news for Democrats, with respondents preferring a Democrat-controlled Congress to a Republican-controlled one, 47 percent to 39 percent, a 5-point jump for Democrats since last month. As evidence of general frustration toward Washington, however, 60 percent of respondents said they would favor replacing every member of Congress. 

Both the Republican and Democratic pollsters who collaborated on the survey say the poll results are dramatic. "On a number of key indicators, the public has moved in the opposite direction from what Republicans hoped they would," Republican pollster Bill McInturff said.

On the issue of the debt ceiling, despite several Republican lawmakers downplaying a default, only 15 percent of respondents said not raising the limit wouldn’t be a serious problem, compared to 63 percent who said it would be “a real and serious problem.” 

The poll of 800 Americans was conducted between Monday and Wednesday and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

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