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Saturday, December 10, 2016

The government shutdown has been a “jaw-dropping” disaster for the Republican Party, leaving it with historically low levels of support, according to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll.

The poll finds that the Republican Party’s messaging on the government shutdown has fallen completely flat with the public. Americans blame the GOP over President Obama for the shutdown by a 53 to 31 percent margin, and an overwhelming 70 percent say that Republicans are putting their own political agenda ahead of what is good for the country. Just 27 percent say that they are demonstrating strong leadership and standing up for what they believe in.

The crisis has taken a devastating toll on the party’s approval rating. A startling 67 percent now disapprove of the job that congressional Republicans are doing, while only 25 percent approve.

Just 24 percent have a favorable view of the Republican Party, compared to 53 percent who view the GOP negatively. The Tea Party movement is similarly disliked, with 21 percent viewing it favorably and 47 percent unfavorably. These are the worst favorability numbers for both the GOP and the Tea Party in the history of the poll.

House Speaker John Boehner, the public face of the Republican Party, is also very unpopular; 17 percent view him favorably, while 42 percent view him unfavorably.

By contrast, President Obama’s favorable/unfavorable rating stands at 47/41 percent, and the Democratic Party’s is 39/40.

“If it were not so bad for the country, the results could almost make a Democrat smile,” said Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart, who conducted the survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff. “These numbers lead to one inescapable conclusion: The Republicans are not tone-deaf; they are stone-deaf.”

Maddow Blog’s Steve Benen illustrates the damage with this convenient chart:

Favorability Chart

Adding insult to injury for Republicans, the shutdown seems to have turned the public against its governing priorities — 38 percent now see the Affordable Care Act as a good idea, compared to 43 percent who see it as a bad idea; this is up from 31 to 44 percent last month. And 50 percent say that they oppose totally eliminating funding for the health care law, up from 46 percent who opposed such tactics in a September poll. In other words, it appears that the GOP’s drive to kill health care reform at all costs has actually made the law more popular.

Similarly, the poll finds that Americans now agree by a 52 to 44 percent margin that government should do more to solve problems,  up from a 48 to 48 percent split in June.

“That is an ideological boomerang,” McInturff said. “As the debate has been going on, if there is a break, there is a break against the Republican position.”

The poll contains one more clear warning sign for the Republican Party: On NBC/WSJ’s generic congressional ballot, respondents said that they would prefer a Democratic-controlled Congress over a Republican-controlled one by a 47 to 39 percent margin. That 8 percent advantage is up from just 3 percent last month.

The full results of the poll can be seen here.

AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan

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