Unfavorable To Whom and Why?

The latest from Gallup sure reinforces the impression that the GOP is “losing” the fiscal battle:

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.

So congressional Republicans will eventually pay attention to these numbers and ease off their current confrontational strategy, right?

Maybe not. As I noted the other day with respect to an ABC/WaPo poll with similar findings, some of the “unfavorable” reactions Republicans are eliciting are undoubtedly from conservatives who think they haven’t been confrontational enough. And sure enough, Gallup finds:

Self-identified Republicans are more than twice as likely to view their own party unfavorably (27%) as Democrats are to see their own party unfavorably (13%). The GOP’s unfavorable rating among Republicans is up eight points from September, compared with a one-point rise in Democratic Party unfavorables among Democrats. These findings may be consistent with the widely circulated narrative that the Republican Party is internally splintered on how best to handle the budgetary negotiations.

That’s one way to look at it. The other way is that “the base” agrees on the basic hostage-taking strategy but is “splintered” on exactly how to execute it. That’s certainly the case with GOP elites.

I don’t know for sure if congressional Republicans have more nuanced polling or access to Gallup internals showing them exactly why various elements of the electorate are unhappy with them. But they are certainly acting like their biggest problem is a base angry with them for squishiness.

Washington Monthly - Donate today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.