WORST GOP RATING IN A DECADE…. CNN, releasing the results of its new poll this afternoon, reports, “The Republican Party’s favorable rating among Americans is at lowest level in at least a decade, according to a new national poll.”


If this doesn’t make the GOP nervous, it should. According to the poll, just 36% have a favorable opinion of the Republican Party, while 54% have a negative opinion. When was the last time a CNN poll showed Republicans with a worse rating? According to the internals (pdf), it was December 1998 — 11 years ago — the same week House Republicans impeached then-President Bill Clinton and the GOP’s favorability rating dropped to 31%.

On the other hand, a 53% majority have a favorable opinion of the Democratic Party. Here’s another homemade chart showing the difference between the two.

Now, Republicans can obviously still turn things around. As we talked about the other day, it’s certainly possible that by this time next year, an anti-incumbent attitude will be strong enough to deliver significant gains for the GOP in the midterms.

But results like these have to be disheartening. President Obama’s poll numbers have fallen in recent months, and so has the Democrats’ support in general. But Republicans have not only failed to capitalize, they’re actually getting less popular and finding fewer Americans willing to even consider themselves members of the party. The GOP is simply moving backwards.

It occurs to me that the most frightening electoral scenario imaginable for Democrats right now would be a Republican Party that cleaned up its act, started taking public policy seriously, moved towards the American mainstream, and stopped taking orders from talk radio and teabaggers — the kind of steps that might improve a 36% favorable rating.

Fortunately for Dems, there’s no reason to think this might happen.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.