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October 09, 2013

Gallup: GOP Approval Rating Tanking

DOOM or something.

With the Republican-controlled House of Representatives engaged in a tense, government-shuttering budgetary standoff against a Democratic president and Senate, the Republican Party is now viewed favorably by 28% of Americans, down from 38% in September. This is the lowest favorable rating measured for either party since Gallup began asking this question in 1992.

Democrats come in at a less than impressive, but miles ahead of the GOP, 43% approval.

A couple of thoughts:

No doubt a bunch of people will read this poll and say it's time for the GOP to end the shutdown before things get worse. These will no doubt be the same people who opposed the shutdown from the start.

Here's the thing, no one looks good in the middle of a fight. That's ok because the goal isn't to look good in the middle but to win or at least to be able to plausibly claim a victory. Winning is the thing that makes people look good and it comes after, not during, the battle.

Imagine you're watching a baseball game and your team is losing in the bottom of the fifth inning. You may say, "things don't look good" but you don't say, "This could get worse. Sure there are 4 innings left but we better quit now."

Remember, this is a poll. There isn't an election for over a year. There's time to come back if things don't go well.

More importantly, how many people who say they don't have a favorable opinion of the GOP are conservatives? There are clearly more than a few people who are tired of the GOP looking for ways to avoid taking the fight to Obama or are upset at the way the GOP has focused on how to get out of the shutdown rather than focusing on the goal..delaying or defunding ObamaCare?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that doubling down on the fight card is the path to popularity and fortune. I'm just saying that when 27% of your own voters don't have a favorable opinion of their own party (and it doesn't measure conservative leaning independents), you've go some real trouble.

Here's my theory: The biggest problem the GOP has is people are upset with it for different and contradictory reasons. On one side you have people who think the GOP has become to conservative and shrill (this includes a not insignificant number of self-identifying Republicans, "moderates" and Democrats) while on the other side are conservative Republicans and independents who are really conservatives.

A move by the GOP to mollify and woo one faction will lead to greater alienation with the other.

It's the same dynamic we're seeing play out in the House GOP caucus. Boehner is trying to find a path that satisfies both sides of his caucus but each move he makes in one direction or the other costs him more votes than it picks up for him.

The advantage for the moderates in the House is that if push comes to shove, Boehner can cut a deal with the Democrats but the price will be steep come next year. It would mean betting that conservatives won't stay home or that enough moderates will suddenly flock to the GOP to replace conservatives who do sit it out.

In and out of government the GOP is in a real bind. They have to find a way to pick up new voters somewhere while hanging on to the ones they have. Threading that kind of needle requires a level of skill and luck the GOP hasn't demonstrated to date. In fact, evidence indicates they aren't even aware of the nature of the challenge they face.

(Note: I had this up for a minute before I realized Ace had posted something I missed, so I took it down for a bit.)

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posted by DrewM. at 05:55 PM

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