Two polls we conducted this weekend already shows some signs of life for the Republican party. This is not to minimize the challenges facing the GOP. Those challenges are significant. But perhaps those who wish to bury Republicans now in anticipation of a poor performance in the November 2014 elections are suffering from premature miscalculation.
One was an internal national survey, and the other was the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll conducted jointly by Public Opinion Strategies and Hart Research Associates. This analysis was written independently of NBC/WSJ and of Hart Research Associates.
Both surveys underscore the current political hit that the President is taking. While 43% of the voters in the POS sample are Democrats and just 35% are Republicans, Obama’s approval rating is an underwhelming 41% approve/49% disapprove. The President is down to just a 24% approve/56% disapprove rating among Independents. Even the holy electoral grail of suburban women, Obama’s job rating is just 40% approve/51% disapprove.
The NBC/WSJ poll found a similar slump – in less than three weeks he’s dropped a net eight points, from 47% approve/48% disapprove to 42% approve/51% disapprove. While it is difficult to project exactly how much of the weakness in the President’s numbers are from Obamacare, it is clear that he is paying a price for the recent controversies rocking his Administration. No matter what the list of current problems facing the Administration includes, it is clear that Obamacare ranks first.
The national discussion is shifting away from the combined shutdown/debt default deadline debacle to the White House Triple Crown of the failing Affordable Care Act, the unseemly listening in on our allies, and the President’s blissful unawareness of anything going on in his Administration because he’s too busy golfing.
Meanwhile, after reaching a significantly worrisome eight point deficit on the generic ballot in the early October NBC/WSJ poll, Republicans have cut that mark in half, going from a 39% GOP/47% Dem margin to trailing by a more manageable 41% GOP/45% Dem score.
Coupled with that, voters do not want to give Barack Obama and the Democrats a blank check. A majority, 58%, say it is better if different parties control Congress and the presidency to prevent either one from going too far, while only 34% say it is better if the same party controls both Congress and presidency so they can work together more closely. Partisan checks and balances are more important to Americans than one party being able to ram through whatever policy it wants.
This is not to say the GOP is undergoing a resurgence. The party’s image is even worse in this current survey (22% positive/53% negative) than in the midst of the shutdown. Republican actions during the shutdown are viewed much more skeptically than Democratic actions (although both the President nor Democrats in Congress are approximately net 20 points to negative).
These rapidly shifting data suggest Republicans would do well to stay out of the Administration’s way and let it continue to implode. It’s time for the GOP to stop shooting itself in the foot with the American voter and enjoy the view as Democrats take over that role.