The Republican Party has been “badly damaged” by the government shutdown, according to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released Thursday evening, which finds public opinion souring on the GOP and some of its core positions.
Americans blamed Republicans over President Barack Obama for the shutdown by a margin of 22 percentage points, with 53 percent saying the GOP deserved more blame, and 31 percent saying Obama did. Approval ratings for the Republican Party and the tea party were at 24 percent and 21 percent respectively — both record lows as measured by NBC/WSJ.
Democrats aren’t wildly popular either. Obama’s approval rating is a marginally positive 47 percent, while the Democratic Party is at 39 percent, and congressional Democrats are at 36 percent.
A slim plurality of Americans say Obama should negotiate with Republicans, even before they agree to a deal that reopens the government or raises the debt ceiling. The president’s approval has remained stable since the shutdown, and there are signs that Democrats may get a boost from the shutdown’s political effects.
Voters were 8 points more likely to say they’d prefer a Democratic-controlled Congress over a Republican-controlled Congress, a 5-point shift toward the Democrats since last month. Support for the new health care law, the touchstone of the government shutdown, rose a net 8 points from September, while the belief that government should do more to solve problems was up 8 points from June.
“That is an ideological boomerang,” Bill McInturff, the GOP pollster who conducts the NBC/WSJ poll along with Democratic pollster Peter Hart, told NBC. “As the debate has been going on, if there is a break, there is a break against the Republican position.”
The poll found that 42 percent think the economy will worsen over the next year, nearly doubling since September, and nearly eight in 10 think the country is on the wrong track. The number who think the country is on the right track has fallen by half since September.
WSJ/NBC pollsters said the survey showed some of the most dramatic shifts they had seen in decades in public attitudes toward the well-being of the country, the direction of the economy and wider political sentiment, according to the Journal.
“What is stunning about these results is just how hard and how quickly public attitudes have landed on the shutdown,” said Hart, a Democratic pollster, according to the Journal. He said the poll showed “a broad disgust for the political system.”
The NBC/WSJ’s findings are largely in line with other recent polling, but with some differences. A Gallup survey released Wednesday found the Republicans’ favorable rating the lowest for either party since 1992. While an AP-GfK poll found the president, as well as Congress, taking a serious approval hit, other surveys found Obama’s approval either stable or down by 1 or 2 percentage points.
Polls on who’s to blame for the shutdown have generally shown Republicans being faulted most, but the margin varies, with some surveys last week showing the blame more evenly distributed.