The government shutdown has caused Independents to flee the Republican Party. According to PPP, Democrats now lead Republicans with Independents, 42%-33%.
In July, Republicans led against generic Dem by 12% among Independents. Now, post-GOP shutdown of the government and mid-debt ceiling hijacking, they are losing by 9%, according to a new Public Policy Polling poll. This leaves Republicans with a 5% deficit against a generic Democrat. This is very bad news for Republicans.
President Obama is holding steady in public opinion post shutdown, with an approval rating of 45/52, “almost identical to his 45/51 numbers before the shutdown in our last national poll.” Among registered voters, 53% blame Congress, while only 43% blame Obama.
But Republicans aren’t faring nearly so well. If the House election were today, 46% would choose Democrats over 41% for Republicans. Republicans trail Democrats by 5% overall, in no small part due to the defection of Independents, who would go 42% for Democrats right now and 33% for Republicans. That’s a 9 point loss.
The reason for the shift is that Independents blame Republicans more than Democrats for the shutdown by 51% to 37%. In July, Independents were 39% for Republicans and 27% for Democrats.
Independents have shifted 21 points on the generic ballot from July when Republicans had a 39/27 advantage with them.
Registered voters approve of Congressional Democrats at 39/56 (almost identical to their numbers of 39/57 before the shutdown), 10 points higher than Republicans, at 29/65. One of the things that Republicans are counting on for 2014 is that the tradition of Independents voting against the president’s party in his second term midterm election holds. (This has happened in 5 of 6 second term midterm elections since World War II.)
An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll taken before the government shutdown revealed that Independents favored Republicans over Democrats by 18 points, 43%-25%. The fact that this Republican advantage has morphed into a double digit deficit reflects the damage that the government shutdown has done to Republicans already.
The piecemeal funding strategy that Ted Cruz put in place for House Republicans is doing nothing to stop the hemorrhaging of support away from the GOP. Voters agree with the Democratic position that the government shutdown is unnecessary. President Obama has built a reputation of reasonableness with voters, so it is bordering on insane that Republicans who have obstructed this president from day one would adopt a strategy where they portray themselves as the reasonable ones.
Republicans have managed to unify most of the country around the concept that they are unfit to hold the House majority. Independents have turned their backs on the Republican message, and the longer House Republicans continue this fight, the greater the risk to the future of their majority.