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Wednesday, October 09, 2013

GOP's Rebranding Hits a Snag or 'How Republicans Screwed the Cooch'

Another day, another poll showing the GOP taking the blame for the government shutdown. How's that big rebranding effort going, guys?

Associated Press: Americans are holding Republicans primarily responsible for the partial government shutdown as public esteem sinks for all players in the impasse, President Barack Obama among them, according to a new poll. It's a struggle with no heroes.

The Associated Press-GfK survey, out Wednesday, affirms expectations by many in Washington — Republicans among them — that the GOP may end up taking the biggest hit in public opinion from the fiscal paralysis, just as that party did when much of the government closed 17 years ago. But the situation is fluid nine days into the shutdown and there's plenty of disdain to go around.

Overall, 62 percent mainly blamed Republicans for the shutdown. About half said Obama or the Democrats in Congress bear much responsibility.
Granted, no one comes out of this smelling like a rose. But the weight of all that "you suck!" is being shouldered mostly be Republicans. Barack Obama's approvals are underwater; 53% disapprove of the way the President is handling the situation and only 37% approve. But that just makes him the most popular man in Washington. Only 5% approve of the job congress is doing.


Of course, at this point, AP's poll is just confirming what all the other polls have been saying: that the GOP have shot themselves in the foot. But those polls seem insufficiently scary. Republicans are standing their ground, telling anyone and everyone that they're winning and everything is awesome.

Maybe a different kind of poll with a different sort of focus will get their attention. Maybe something like this:

Politico: Democrat Terry McAuliffe has opened up a significant lead over Republican Ken Cuccinelli in the Virginia governor’s race amid broad public disapproval of the federal government shutdown, according to a POLITICO poll of the 2013 gubernatorial election.

McAuliffe, the former national Democratic Party chairman, is now 9 points ahead of Cuccinelli, the current state attorney general, in a race that also includes Libertarian nominee Robert Sarvis. In the survey, McAuliffe drew support from 44 percent of Virginians versus 35 percent for Cuccinelli and 12 percent for Sarvis.

Four weeks from Election Day, McAuliffe also leads Cuccinelli in a one-on-one contest, 52 percent to 42 percent.
Let's be clear here, Ken "The Cooch"  Cuccinelli has absolutely nothing at all to do with the government shutdown. But the Republican Party brand has been so tarnished by the tantrum in Washington that Ken's clean hands ares irrelevant. Ken Cuccinelli has dropped down ten points against his Democratic rival because everyone thinks Republicans suck and because Cuccinelli is connected to Tea Party whackjob Ted Cruz.

The major curve ball in the Virginia race... which is now entering its second week and could be expected to have an outsize impact in a state with such a large population of both civilian and military government employees. McAuliffe has led Cuccinelli in the mid-single digits in both public and private polling; his margin is wider in the POLITICO poll, and the shutdown is the most obvious explanation for that.

Both McAuliffe and Cuccinelli have spoken out against the shutdown. The Democrat has run ads tying Cuccinelli to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, the so-called defund Obamacare champion, while Cuccinelli has accused McAuliffe of risking a shutdown in Richmond with his give-no-quarter support for Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.
The shutdown is already costing Republicans elections. If Virginia hasn't sent up red flags and set off ah-oo-gah horns at Republican Party HQ, nothing will. Tea Party reps are beginning to find themselves in a less comfortable position with their own voters and now Republicans who have nothing to do with the shutdown -- and indeed, have spoken out against it -- are getting hit in the public opinion driveby, as well.

When you hear a Republican say that the public is behind them, they're either lying to you, to themselves, or to both. This isn't working out very well for them at all.

Just ask The Cooch.


[photo by Gage Skidmore]

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