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October 09, 2013 4:04 PM Unfavorable To Whom and Why?

By Ed Kilgore

The latest from Gallup sure reinforces the impression that the GOP is “losing” the fiscal battle:

With the Republican-controlled House of Representatives engaged in a tense, government-shuttering budgetary standoff against a Democratic president and Senate, the Republican Party is now viewed favorably by 28% of Americans, down from 38% in September. This is the lowest favorable rating measured for either party since Gallup began asking this question in 1992.

So congressional Republicans will eventually pay attention to these numbers and ease off their current confrontational strategy, right?

Maybe not. As I noted the other day with respect to an ABC/WaPo poll with similar findings, some of the “unfavorable” reactions Republicans are eliciting are undoubtedly from conservatives who think they haven’t been confrontational enough. And sure enough, Gallup finds:

Self-identified Republicans are more than twice as likely to view their own party unfavorably (27%) as Democrats are to see their own party unfavorably (13%). The GOP’s unfavorable rating among Republicans is up eight points from September, compared with a one-point rise in Democratic Party unfavorables among Democrats. These findings may be consistent with the widely circulated narrative that the Republican Party is internally splintered on how best to handle the budgetary negotiations.

That’s one way to look at it. The other way is that “the base” agrees on the basic hostage-taking strategy but is “splintered” on exactly how to execute it. That’s certainly the case with GOP elites.

I don’t know for sure if congressional Republicans have more nuanced polling or access to Gallup internals showing them exactly why various elements of the electorate are unhappy with them. But they are certainly acting like their biggest problem is a base angry with them for squishiness.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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