Three new polls released on Monday, Oct. 21, 2013 indicate that President Barack Obama, the House Republicans and Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-OH have not escaped the American public's blame as a result of the 16-day partial government shutdown and placing the country on the brink of a debt default. A new Gallup poll looked at President Obama's approval rating, while ABC News/Washington Post and CNN/ORC polls looked at the public's opinion of the Republican controlled House of Representatives. While both President Obama and the GOP's ratings plummeted, the House GOP is facing most of the responsibility for the shutdown.
The CNN/ORC International survey released on Monday, Oct. 21, 2013 demonstrated just how much the American public holds the Republicans' responsible. For the first time a majority of Americans at 54 percent believe "it's a bad thing" that Republicans have control of the House Representatives with only 38 percent believing "it's a good thing." The Republicans lost over 10 percentage points since after the 2012 elections, when it was in reverse and 51 percent approved of the Republicans having control of the House, and only 43 percent were against it.
CNN Chief National Correspondent John King responding to the polls believes the GOP can rehabilitate before the 2014 midterm elections, and is does not necessary mean they will lose control of the House. King analyzed; "The midterm election is a year away. There's plenty of time for Republicans to work on the brand, but they've taken a bit of a beating here. They've got some work to do. They need a bit of a makeover."
The CNN poll also looked at Americans' opinion of John Boehner, the Speaker of the House, who according to the poll took the greatest hit, with 63 percent of respondents wanting him replaced, and that includes half the number of Republicans polled agreeing that he needs to go, and 30 percent of Americans polled want Boehner to remain the speaker.
Meanwhile the ABC News/Washington Post poll also released on Monday, Oct. 21 analyzed Congress's approval ratings and in general American dissatisfaction with government. The ABC News poll also showed that it was not only the Republicans that took a hit, Democrats also suffered a bit in the polls. After the two crises Americans are fed up with the government, with 78 percent saying they are dissatisfied with the way the government operates.
Only 12 percent of Americans approve of Congress, with an overwhelming 85 percent disapproving, almost a record low. The results are different when Americans expressed views of their own representatives, with 43 percent approving and 47 percent disapproving, which are almost record lows. Also 25 percent intend to re-elect their representative, while 66 percent would vote for another candidate.
The Republican Party especially received high unfavorable ratings because of their role throughout the shutdown, with the party only receiving a 32 percent favorable rating, and a large majority at 63 percent viewing the party unfavorably. The Tea Party is viewed worse with 26 percent viewing them favorably, with 36 percent of Republicans identifying with the faction.
When asked in the ABC News poll about the GOP's handling of the crises, 77 percent of Americans disapproved, while 58 percent of registered Republicans disapproved. The party's disapproval rating however, rose with the length of the shutdown, among Americans it went up 14 percentage points, and among Republicans it went even more by 20 percent. When asked who was more to blame for the shutdown Americans said Congressional Republicans 53 to 29 percent blaming the President.
Congressional Democrats weathered the shutdown much better, with an almost even favorability, unfavorable rating. Democrats had a 46 percent favorable rating to a 49 percent unfavorable rating.
The new Gallup poll released Monday, Oct. 21 looked at Obama's summary approval rating for the third quarter of the year from July to October, 2013, which is also the 19th quarter of Obama's presidency. The President's approval rating average is at 44.5 percent, down 3 points, at the end of June his approval rating average was 47.5 percent.
Gallup described the President's higher approval ratings for the last year; "After a relatively strong fourth year that included several quarters of higher ratings that aided his (2012) re-election, his approval rating has now declined in each of the last three quarters."
There was a plunge, but it was not the President's lowest quarter in the poll, the third quarter of 2011, the President's approval rating plunged to 41 percent. Obama's numbers at this point in his term is similar to President George W. Bush and Harry S. Truman's approval rating, which places him in the middle of presidential ratings at the time of their 19th quarter in office.
Gallup poll believes the government shutdown and debt ceiling showdown is to blame for the President's lowered rating; "The legislative battles over the federal budget and the Affordable Care Act, as well as the federal debt limit, took a toll on the president's popularity, with his Gallup daily approval rating falling to 41% at points during the shutdown."
The CNN poll also looked at the President's approval rating and found that it remained unchanged at 44 percent throughout the crisis, but his disapproval rating remains high at 52 percent.
The ABC News/Washington Post poll also looked at how the public viewed the President throughout the shutdown. Like the CNN poll, his approval rating was steady, with 48 percent approving and 49 percent disapproving, however when asked about strong disapproval, Obama had his highest number at 39 percent. President Obama still remains likeable with a 50 percent favorability rating, and with a 48 percent unfavorable rating.
President Obama believed that with his continued blame game, holding the Republicans' entirely responsible for the crises, he would end up blameless afterwards, it did not work as he wanted. The President has suffered to a certain extent at the polls. However, the Republicans are still facing the brunt of the blame, it would be impossible for them not to be; especially after how much time the President spent citing them as the main reason for the shutdown and the country sitting on the brink of a default.
Although the anger is high now, it does not signify the outcome of the 2014 midterm elections. Although President Obama hoped blaming the GOP would help catapult the Democrats back to controlling the House, it may not. If history is any indication, as in 1996 after a government shutdown between a Republican House and a Democratic President, the Republicans still maintained control of the House after the 1996 election, and the same could happen again in 2014.
- Gallup Poll Obama's Job Approval, Oct. 21, 2013
- CNN/ORC Poll Full Results (pdf), Oct. 21, 2013
- ABC News/Washington Post Poll, Oct. 21, 2013
Bonnie K. Goodman is the Editor of the Academic Buzz Network, a series of political, academic & education blogs which includes History Musings: History, News & Politics. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies, both from McGill University, and has done graduate work in Jewish history at Concordia University as part of the MA in Judaic Studies program. Her specializations are US, Canadian & Israeli politics.