The American public’s opinion of Republicans in Congress has sunk since they forced a shutdown over funding for President Obama’s health care law last week, thanks largely to a split between more moderate Republicans and the right wing of the party.
As the budget impasse drags on, a new poll shows the GOP taking the lion’s share of the blame while Democrats and independents take Obama’s side in the struggle.
Since the government shut down on Oct. 1, disapproval of Republicans has climbed to 70 percent, up from 63 percent before the shutdown, according to a new poll from the Washington Post and ABC News released Monday. Meanwhile, Obama’s approval rating has gone up four points, from 41 percent to 45 percent. Democrats in Congress, however, have not been so lucky, with their disapproval rating rising from 56 percent to 61 percent. Predictably, Republicans disapprove of Obama while Democrats are sticking by him.
The most interesting information from the poll, however, is that the current schism in Congress between the tea party members behind the shutdown and the moderates who want to reopen the government is also playing out among Republican voters. By 59 percent to 39 percent, conservative Republicans gave a thumbs-up to the GOP’s handling of the budget battle. But more moderate and liberal Republicans actually disapprove of how their party is dealing with the situation, 49 percent to 44 percent.
Digging further, the poll showed that respondents who identified as “very conservative” approved of congressional Republicans 68 percent to 32 percent while “somewhat conservative” Republicans approve 51 percent to 45 percent. In other words, the more the GOP pleases the far right of the party, the more they alienate their more moderate constituents. That’s a fact Republicans should be worried about when it comes to holding onto swing districts where a Sunday poll showed the shutdown is hurting incumbent Republicans.
Important voter blocks, for example, are not enamored of Republicans’ tactics in Congress, with disapproval at 71 percent among independents and 75 percent among women.
Democrats, meanwhile, are much less divided over the issue. Moderate and conservative Democrats actually coalesced around the president this week, while liberal Democrats remain firmly behind him.
Conducted Oct. 2-6, the poll interviewed 1,005 adults and has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.
Pema Levy is a senior politics reporter. Before joining the International Business Times, Pema covered the 2012 elections at Talking Points Memo and wrote about politics at...