The Republican Party has long had an uphill battle with its favorability rating, but the most recent Gallup poll has the GOP at a 20 year low. Since 1992, Gallup has been asking U.S. citizens this question:
“Next we’d like to get your overall opinion of some people in the news…. Please say if you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of ___.” The blank is filled by, among others the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. The results from 1992 to this month can be seen above. The Democrats are muddling along at 43%, but that’s just great compared to the Republican Party, whose favorability has fallen off a cliff since the government shutdown, and now sit at 28%. That “beats” the previous low for the Republican Party, which was 31% in 1999, amidst their dogged pursuit of answers around Bill Clinton’s sex life.
Republicans can take solace in their rapid bounce back the next year just in time for George W. Bush to (sort of) get elected. From eyeballing the chart, it seems the Republican Party can win in elections as long as their favorability is close to that of the Democrats (they were about equal in the major Republican Party wins of 1994 and 2010). Republicans almost always have a turnout advantage, so equal rankings translated into a winning advantage for them.
The question then, is can the Republican Party turn their ship around in time for the 2014 elections, when they hope to retain the House and take a winnable Senate. The steep drop from last month’s 38% shows that the Republican Party may just be in a particularly bad month, and should recover (though this downturn could cost them the Virginia governor’s race, which is this November). However, the Tea Party isn’t getting any less intransigent, and if the country defaults on its loans, the Republican Party might not be able to shake off the negative energy in a year’s time.
One other concern for the Republican Party: Gallup leaned heavily Republican in the 2012 election cycle. Maybe they have made corrections, but if not, that 28% approval rating might actually be too high.