Shutdown unlikely to be a big factor in 2014 mid-term

Pundits and talking heads have been weighing in on the effects of the 16-day quasi-government shutdown on the Republican Party and the 2014 mid-term election. Many are saying that the electoral consequences could be steep, and could even cost the GOP control of the House of Representatives.

It’s hard to counter arguments and polling data that the Republican Party’s standing with Americans has been hurt by the shutdown. Gallup recently found that just 28% of the public has favorable view of the GOP, the lowest of any party on record. The good news is that Republicans are still favored on the economy. They were also given a gift by the endless problems plaguing the federal ObamaCare exchange.

But the shutdown could help Democrats with fundraising and candidate recruitment, Stu Rothenberg recently wrote, at a time when President Barack Obama’s poll numbers with his own party had been softening.

Fox News poll: Blame for shutdown spread equally, ObamaCare still unpopular

Though his approval rating is still underwater, President Barack Obama has seen his numbers jump slightly since early last month, according to a wide-ranging poll released on Friday by Fox News. But ObamaCare remains unpopular and blame for the government shutdown is spread around evenly.

The poll found that President Obama’s approval rating now stands at 45%, while 49% disapprove of his job performance. That’s up from 40/54 in September. Congress, on the other hand, saw its approval rating fall, from an already abysmal 17/75 last month to 13/81 in October.

President Obama’s approval ratings on key issues have increased slightly. He sees a 7-point jump on healthcare, from 38/58 in September to 45/51 in October. His approval rating on the economy didn’t see as high of a jump, but it did increase slightly from a tepid 37/60 last month to 40/56 this month.

The uptick in President Obama’s numbers can probably be attributed to the government shutdown. To this point, the White House has been more effective in their messaging to the American public than congressional Republicans, who face hurdle due to the media’s general deference to President Obama. It is important to note, however, that his approval ratings are still underwater across the board, and has been underwater since almost mid-July.

But when it comes to President Obama’s signature law, the Affordable Care Act (or “ObamaCare,” as we’ve come to know it), Americans’ still aren’t fans and would like to see changes.

Government shutdown puts Republicans in a corner on debt ceiling

Whether they like it or not, congressional Republicans may have squandered their chance to deal on the debt ceiling because of the current government shutdown.

House Republicans are absolutely right when they say that President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) have been unwilling to negotiate on a Continuing Resolution that would keep the government open. But they made a tactical political mistake by trying to defund and delay ObamaCare through a measure that would keep the federal government running.

Poll after poll shows that Americans disapprove of ObamaCare, the 2010 healthcare law, and they want it repealed. They’re seeing the effects of the law through higher insurance premiums and its effects on workers as many employers drop or change benefits, cut hours to avoid mandates and/or have scaled back plans to hire. Republicans have won the messaging battle on ObamaCare.

But early polls show Americans placing more blame on Republicans for the government shutdown than President Obama and Democrats. This isn’t entirely self-inflicted; after all, the media isn’t exactly doing them any favors by framing the narrative in a manner that helps the White House.

Poll: Lindsey Graham vulnerable to primary challengers

Senator Lindsey Graham

Sen. Lindsey Graham’s favorability has dropped among South Carolina Republicans and is vulnerable to a primary challenger, according to Clemson University’s latest Palmetto Poll.

The poll of 500 South Carolina Republicans shows only 31% of South Carolina Republicans will vote to re-elect Graham, while 39% will base their vote depending on who runs against him. Nineteen percent (19%) say they will not vote for Graham under any circumstance.

Among Graham’s problems with Republicans in the state, according to Clemson University, is his lack of conservative principles, association with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), and willingness to compromise with Democrats. His support for strikes against Syria was also cited as a reason.

Fifty-three percent (53%) of Republican voters in the state have a favorable opinion of Graham, who is facing three primary challengers next year, making him the least popular of the key incumbents polled. Thirty-six percent (36%) of Republicans have an unfavorable view of the South Carolina senator.

To put the numbers in context, a Clemson University poll conducted before the 2012 presidential primary found that 63% of South Carolina Republicans held a favorable view of Graham, while only 22% viewed him unfavorably. The drop in his favorability rating is fairly consistent with other polls from the state.

“Most incumbents have a ‘re-elect regardless’ number in the 30s, so the governor’s numbers are quite strong,” said Dave Woodard, a Clemson University political science professor.

Harry Reid: Capitol Hill’s most unpopular leader

The narrative in the media is that House Republicans will take a majority of the blame from voters for a government shutdown, which talking heads and pundits say is an example of their unwillingness to work with President Barack Obama.

But new Gallup poll shows that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is Capitol Hill’s most unpopular leader, surpassing House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the latter of whom previously took the dishonor.

According to the poll, which was conducted between September 5-8, only 33% of American adults approve of Reid, while 53% disapprove, putting his approval rating underwater by 20 points.

Boehner doesn’t come out much better, at 37/54 (-17), while Pelosi is at 39/51 (-12). Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who will face a tough fight for re-election next year, is the only congressional leader who has a disapproval rating under 50%, though he’s still underwater, at 35/47 (-12).

The poll come as Congress faces high-priority issues, including passing a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the federal government and raising the debt ceiling. The House passed a CR last week that defunded ObamaCare, President Barack Obama’s top domestic achievement.

Poll: 60% of Americans say the government has too much power

The number of Americans who believe the federal government is too powerful has reached a record high, according to a poll released earlier this week by Gallup, though the historical numbers reflect partisan divisions depending on which party controls the White House.

The Gallup poll, conducted between September 5-8, found that 60% of American adults believe that the federal government is too powerful, surpassing the previous high recorded in September 2012, while 32% say that the government has about the right amount of power, which is a record low.

Just 7% of Americans believe that the federal government has too little power.

An eye-popping 81% of Republicans believe that the federal government has too much power. And though only 38% of Democrats agree with that view, that number is up from 28% just last year. Sixty-five percent (65%) of independents believe the government has too much power.

The Obama Administration has come under criticism from both Republicans and Democrats concerned about the erosion of civil liberties through the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs, which collects Americans’ phone and Internet metadata even if they’re not suspected of a crime. The Internal Revenue Service’s politically motivated targeting of Tea Party and conservative groups has been heavily criticized by Republicans.

But the historical patterns show that Republicans (Bush 2003-2009) and Democrats (2009 to present) are less likely to think the federal government has too much power when their party has control of the White House, as you can see in the chart below.

House Republicans warming up to Internet sales tax

Bob Goodlatte

After sitting on the Internet sales tax since in passed the Senate in May, House Republicans may be ready to move forward on the issue in the coming weeks, despite public opposition, as they will draft their own measure to enact what is unquestionably a tax increase:

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va) is expected to release his own set of principles on the issue in the next week or two, according to sources who are closely watching the legislation.

The principles are a sign of fresh momentum for online sales tax legislation after Goodlatte and other top Republicans in the House — including Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) — voiced deep skepticism about the Senate-passed Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA).

Goodlatte could have chosen to bury the bill, but his decision to craft the principles shows he is serious about moving some version of the legislation forward.

The principles are expected to be broad policy statements with positions such as maintaining a simple system and not burdening businesses.

The Senate version of the Internet sales tax — the so-called “Marketplace Fairness Act” — would have impose an enormous regulatory burden on small businesses, making them tax collectors for more than 9,600 jurisdictions. The measure would also lead to higher prices for consumers.

Pew poll: 53% of Americans disapprove of ObamaCare

Yet another poll has been released showing opposition to ObamaCare at an all-time high, just two weeks before the law’s state health insurance exchanges are set to open.

Just last week, CNN released a poll showing that support for ObamaCare had fallen to a record low, with only 39% of Americans holding a favorable view of the law. The decline of support comes despite ramped up efforts by the Obama Administration to promote its various provisions.

But a new USA Today/Pew Research poll finds that 53% of Americans disapprove of ObamaCare, the highest number since they began tracking public sentiment of the law, while 42% approve of it. The poll also reflects a substantial intensity gap, showing that 41% strongly disapprove of ObamaCare, while only 26% strongly approve.

Public opposition to ObamaCare has remained high for some time, with most polls showing that Americans favor repeal. But the USA Today/Pew Research poll shows another interesting dynamic, with Americans trusting Republicans over Democrats on the healthcare issue, at 40/39, though the numbers are within the margin of error.

Gallup poll shows falling trust in government

On the heels of several scandals — the IRS’s targeting of conservative organizations and massive spying through the NSA — and a failed push for an unnecessary war, a Gallup poll released on Friday showing that Americans’ trust in their government to handle domestic and foreign affairs is at a record low.

“Americans’ trust and confidence in the federal government’s ability to handle international problems has reached an all-time low, with 49% saying they have a great deal or a fair amount of confidence, two percentage points below the previous low of 51% recorded in 2007,” wrote Joy Wilke and Frank Newport of Gallup.

“Americans in the same survey also expressed historically low levels of confidence in the federal government’s ability to handle domestic problems, with 42% reporting a great deal or a fair amount of confidence,” they added. “This is one point below the previous low of 43% in 2011.”

 Domestic trust

The poll reflects partisan divides, depending on which party held control of the White House, with Democrats less likely to trust a Republican president and vice versa on both domestic and international issues.

There are other factors to take into account, as Gallup notes, including concerns over the economy and dissatisfaction with Congress. But it’s becoming increasingly clear that Americans are increasingly distrustful of their government, and for very good reason, given everything that has happened over the past several months and the implementation of an unpopular law (ObamaCare) that will impact virtually every American.

Americans oppose raising the debt ceiling

debt ceiling

Though most members of Congress are focused on funding the federal government for another year, there is another battle on the horizon — raising the federal debt ceiling, which will be reached mid-next month.

House Republicans want some sort of a trade off from the White House to raise the debt ceiling, currently at $16.7 trillion, either further spending cuts or concessions on ObamaCare, and are tossing around the idea of holding a clean vote on the measure to show that there isn’t support for it inside the chamber. The White House, however, isn’t interested in having a debate on raising the debt ceiling.

Disagreement on how to approach the issue could lead to a stalemate similar to what the country saw in 2011 when Congress passed the Budget Control Act, a compromise between the Congress and the White House that led to the sequester.

But two new polls show that Americans are opposed to raising the debt ceiling.

NBC News and the Wall Street Journal released a poll at the end of last week showing that a plurality of Americans oppose raising the debt limit, at 44/22.

Though opposition is strong, NBC News notes that President Obama will be able to frame the debate over the issue, giving him an advantage over House Republicans who have frequently been unable to frame a coherent message.

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