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Boehner CGM2

Now that Senate leadership has announced a deal to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling, it is clearer than ever that the Republican Party won’t accomplish the goal that led it to trigger this governing crisis: repealing the Affordable Care Act.

That’s not to say that the GOP will come away empty-handed, however. Here are four things that the Republican Party did get for shutting down the government and pushing the nation to the brink of a debt default.

Photo: Republican Conference via Flickr

Free-Falling Poll Numbers

gallup poll

Since the government shutdown began, the Republican Party has seen a disastrous drop in its poll numbers. Democracy Corps found congressional Republicans’ favorability at one of the lowest points that they have ever recorded. Gallup found that the GOP is less popular than it has been in 20 years. NBC/Wall Street Journal pollsters described the party’s plummeting numbers as “jaw-dropping.

Just a few weeks ago, the Republicans losing their House majority was considered to be the longest of long shots. Today, there is serious reason to believe that a Democratic wave could be coming in 2014.

A Democratic Governor Of Virginia

Virginia's McAuliffe

It’s likely that the crisis has already cost Republicans a winnable race. Since the government shutdown began, Democrat Terry McAuliffe has expanded his lead over Republican Ken Cuccinelli, a Tea Party favorite whom Democrats have delighted in tying to the crisis (which is hugely politically loaded in Virginia, home to the second most federal employees of any state in the nation). As the government shutdown grew less popular, so did Cuccinelli.

The Virginia attorney general arguably made the situation worse for himself by appearing at a fundraiser with the shutdown’s ringleader, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). Speaking of whom…

Photo: mou-ikkai via Flickr

House Speaker Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz

By following Senator Cruz into the shutdown and debt ceiling fights, congressional Republicans established him as the de facto leader of the party. After the Senate’s more level-headed members rejected his empty promises of defunding the Affordable Care Act, Cruz turned his attention to the right wing of the House majority — and successfully convinced them to spike Speaker John Boehner’s attempts to lead his caucus out of the crisis. Cruz has become so influential in the House that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has begun referring to him as the “joint Speaker.

In addition to establishing himself as a party leader, the freshman senator raised $1.19 million in the third quarter — an impressive sum for a senator who won’t face re-election for five years — and added more than two million names to his mailing list. So while the crisis may have been painful for the American people and disastrous for the Republican Party, all things considered, it’s worked out well for Ted Cruz.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

A Huge Distraction From Obamacare

Obamacare Awesome

Ironically, the governing crisis that was initiated in an effort to harm the Affordable Care Act ended up being incredibly helpful to the law. The rollout of the law’s health exchanges was just as glitchy as Republicans hoped and health care advocates feared — but the twin shutdown and debt ceiling crises completely overshadowed the troubled launch.

In fact, according to the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, the Affordable Care Act actually became more popular once Republicans forced a government shutdown to try to kill it.

Photo: Will O’Neill via Flickr

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