CNN released a new poll on Monday with terrible news for the GOP—54 percent of Americans think it’s “bad for the country” that Republicans control the House of Representatives.
Only 38 percent consider the GOP majority to be a positive. The new survey reveals just how far congressional Republicans have plummeted in public esteem and the degree to which the shutdown and debt ceiling showdown alienated independent voters.
When CNN and ORC International last asked about the Republican House majority at the end of last year, 51 percent of Americans deemed it a positive. This was during the middle of the fiscal cliff showdown and after narrowly averting a default during the previous 2011 deal to temporarily raise the debt limit.
By contrast, the failed effort by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Tea Partiers to defund Obamacare hammered their approval ratings. By holding out to first strip the 2010 Affordable Care Act of its financing and later to delay its implementation by a year, the House managed to partially close the government for 16 days this month and put the government on the brink of default.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) assumes that the shutdown would have succeeded if a group of Republican senators had not broken with conservatives to pursue a deal.
So let’s parse the poll numbers to see what this means for congressional Republicans:
* Older voters still kind of like Republicans. Forty-six percent of voters older than 65 still think it’s a positive for the GOP to control the House, just a percentage point below the 47 percent who consider it a negative.
* The chasm really cracks open among voters between the ages of 50 and 64. A stunning 61 percent of them believe the Republican majority is bad for the country.
* Rural voters still deem the GOP majority to be a plus by 47 percent to 45 percent. But the negative numbers apply to all four major geographical areas: Northeast, Midwest, South, and West.
* Only 35 percent of independent voters—a group that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney courted last year to be competitive—judge the House majority as a positive.
* However, Republicans have little incentive to change their ways. Eighty-seven percent of self-identified Republicans still view their control of the House as good for the country. And 80 percent of Tea Party supporters also favorably view the GOP control of the House.