Do Polls Foreshadow Republican Destruction in the Senate?


With Washington at a standstill during the shutdown and panic over the debt ceiling building, frustration has a clear place in political sentiment these days. Polls have also made it obvious that a lot of this frustration is pointed at Republicans in Washington. However, a new poll conducted by The Wall Street Journal and NBC is showing a whole new level of anger at the American government — unfortunately for those Republicans dreaming of the Senate, the findings are a real nightmare for the GOP.

According to The Washington Post, the poll was co-administered by Republican pollster Bill McInturff and Democratic pollsters Peter Hart and Fred Yang. McInturff said in an analysis of the poll that “this is among the handful of surveys that stand out in my career as being significant and consequential.”

Eight out of ten people polled said that the U.S. had veered off track — an increase of 16 percent in four months — and four in ten reported a belief that the economy was headed for a downturn this coming year. Six in ten said, if given the chance, they would swap out every single member of Congress —  even their own.

Six out of ten voiced concern over the future of the economy as a result of events in Congress. A reported 24 percent of those polled had positive sentiments regarding the Republican party and 21 percent felt positive about the Tea Party.

Finally, the blame game — 53 percent blamed Republicans for the shutdown, 31 percent blamed President Obama, with 66.6 percent believing Republicans put their agenda before the best interest of the U.S., and 51 percent saying the same for Obama. A poll done by Gallup shows comparable results indicating dissatisfaction with the country as a whole, but especially Republicans.

Many may recall Senator Ted Cruz’s (R-Tex.) insistence last week — when poll numbers were slightly less severe, though still not good — that his party had “not remotely” been injured. Cruz had similar things to say recently when he told NBC News on Friday that its poll was “not reflective of where the country is.”

Electoral implications of general sentiment are not hard to miss — Republicans previously hopeful of a Republican-controlled Senate now have a difficult PR job ahead. Opinion of those in control of one house doesn’t bode well for gaining a majority in the other.

Efforts on the part of Tea Party members have been viewed as particularly destructive — for example, the twenty-one-hour anti-health-care-law filibuster (which wasn’t a proper filibuster) conducted recently by Senator Cruz. According to The New York Times, Brian Walsh — Republican consultant and previous strategist for the National Republican Senatorial Committee — spoke with concern about groups within the Tea Party.

Walsh noted the divisive effect of those aiming the force of their political zeal inwards toward their own party. “The Tea Party benefits when the energy is focused on the Democratic Party and their agenda,” said Walsh, adding that the effect of a select few focusing on the Republican party has been “not helpful.”

House members currently running for Senate in Georgia, Louisiana, and Montana may be examples of what Walsh is talking about as they continue to demand revision of Obamacare in exchange for ending the shutdown. Based on recent polls, voters may not have the patience for rhetoric of that sort.

Some, such as Senator Mitch McConnell, have adopted a different strategy: empathizing with voters’ frustration, said The New York Times. “Angry with Washington?  So am I,” said McConnell, possibly hoping that if nothing else, Americans can rally behind that sentiment with equal enthusiasm.

Charlie Cook, editor of The Cook Political Report, described the Republicans’ path to Senate majority as “very, very, very narrow,” adding that if he were running for the U.S. Senate, he certainly wouldn’t want to be running “from Washington” or “from the House Republican side” at the same time. Analysis by Cook Political concluded that while Democrats would need only two of six competitive seats to retain the majority, five of those six would be need by Republicans, “including unseating 3 Democrats.”

Strategy for Republican candidates varies, according to The New York Times. Some, such as Republican Karen Handel, are distancing themselves from Washington. Others are standing firm on their anti-health-care positions. Candidate Representative Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) said that he would back up conservative colleagues in attacking Obamacare even if he weren’t aiming for a seat in the Senate.

Republican maneuverings aside, Democratic candidates are certainly sitting easy under present conditions — assuming they last until the coming Senatorial elections.

Here’s how the major U.S. equity indexes traded on Monday:

S&P 500 Index Chart - Yahoo! Finance

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