Like any game of chicken, the government shutdown was always an all-or-nothing proposition for the tea party. Now, with a deal about to be done, it’s pretty clear that what they got was nothing.
The movement, running out of steam after the 2012 election, got a shot in the arm after the IRS scandal broke, then roared back to life to support Ted Cruz’s defund-or-shutdown movement over Obamacare. For a moment this fall, it even felt like a bit like 2010.
But unlike 2010, when the tea party helped Republicans win 60 House seats, this time the movement has only hurt itself—perhaps mortally. A new Pew survey out today shows just how bad the damage is. The tea party is less popular than ever, with nearly half of Americans holding a negative view of the movement and just 30 percent of Republicans saying they view it favorably. Just a third of GOPers say the tea-party movement is even part of their own party.
Much of this collapse has happened since June, suggesting it was the government shutdown that killed the beast. Democrats, Republicans, and independents all agree here.
And there’s now a huge split between tea party-Republicans and non-tea-party Republicans, reflecting the split already visible in Congress.
Nowhere in the Pew poll is this more evident than in the numbers for Ted Cruz, who emerged from obscurity to become the de facto leader of the right wing of his party. While his favorable rating among tea-party Republicans has risen since July by 27 points—from 47 to 74—his unfavorable numbers have risen 15 points among non-tea-party Republicans over the same period, from 16 to 31 percent.
Democrats were dinged, too, and Republicans even more so, but the tea party got the worst of it.
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Since the release of the Access Hollywood tape, on which Donald Trump boasted of sexually assaulting women, "Senate Republicans have seen their fortunes dip, particularly in states like Florida, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada and Pennsylvania," where Hillary Clinton now leads. Jennifer Duffy writes that she now expects Democrats to gain five to seven seats—enough to regain control of the chamber.
"Of the Senate seats in the Toss Up column, Trump only leads in Indiana and Missouri where both Republicans are running a few points behind him. ... History shows that races in the Toss Up column never split down the middle; one party tends to win the lion’s share of them."
"Some Republicans are running so far away from their party’s nominee that they are threatening to sue TV stations for running ads that suggest they support Donald Trump. Just two weeks before Election Day, five Republicans―Reps. Bob Dold (R-Ill.), Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), David Jolly (R-Fla.), John Katko (R-N.Y.) and Brian Fitzpatrick, a Pennsylvania Republican running for an open seat that’s currently occupied by his brother―contend that certain commercials paid for by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee provide false or misleading information by connecting them to the GOP nominee. Trump is so terrible, these Republicans are essentially arguing, that tying them to him amounts to defamation."
Former Illinois GOP Congressman Aaron Schock "recently agreed to pay a $10,000 fine for making an excessive solicitation for a super PAC that was active in his home state of Illinois four years ago." Schock resigned from Congress after a story about his Downton Abbey-themed congressional office raised questions about how he was using taxpayer dollars.
If you need a marker for how confident Hillary Clinton is at this point of the race, here's one: CNN's Jeff Zeleny reports "she's been talking to Republican senators, old allies and new, saying that she is willing to work with them and govern."