It’s hard to be a Republican in Washington these days. The party is being battered and blamed from all sides for the government shutdown even as it tries, mostly unsuccessfully, to present a united front against President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats in the fiscal fight.
An NBC-Wall Street Journal poll released late Thursday tells the story. Fifty-three percent of Americans had a negative impression of the party, compared with 40 percent for Democrats. Seventy percent disapproved of the job the GOP is doing in Congress - 11 points worse than the number for Democrats. Fifty-three percent said congressional Republicans are more to blame for the government shutdown, while 31 percent named Obama. We could go on, but you get the point.
The worst part of all this for the GOP is that so many people in the party saw it coming. In the run-up to the shutdown, Republican strategists questioned the wisdom of insisting that defunding or delaying Obamacare was the price of keeping the lights on in Washington. Polling suggested that it was the only way the party could lose, politically speaking, on the president’s unpopular health-care law.
But Republican leaders in Congress didn’t heed those warnings. The result? Instead of playing offense on the problems with Obamacare’s new health insurance exchanges, they spent the week in a defensive crouch.
Republican Party, for walking into a trap of your own making, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.