Poll: Shutdown Hurting Republicans in Battleground Districts

House Republicans are already taking a drubbing at home, a new poll of two dozen congressional districts shows.

The shutdown, as seen from downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday.
National Journal
Alex Seitz-Wald
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Alex Seitz-Wald
Oct. 6, 2013, 3 a.m.

The gov­ern­ment shut­down is already hurt­ing the GOP in battle­ground con­gres­sion­al dis­tricts, ac­cord­ing to new polling in two dozen dis­tricts cur­rently con­trolled by Re­pub­lic­ans.

The sur­veys, com­mis­sioned by the lib­er­al group Mo­ve­On.org Polit­ic­al Ac­tion and con­duc­ted by Pub­lic Policy Polling, sug­gest that the gov­ern­ment shut­down may already be hav­ing a big­ger im­pact than most ana­lysts real­ize.

“Demo­crats must pick up 17 seats to win con­trol of the House. These poll res­ults make clear that if the elec­tion were held today, such a pickup would be well with­in reach,” said poll­ster Jim Wil­li­ams. “The sur­veys chal­lenge the con­ven­tion­al wis­dom that ger­ry­man­der­ing has put the House out of reach for Demo­crats.”

We’re still 13 months out from next year’s midterm elec­tions and the shut­down isn’t even over yet, so it’s too soon to draw any con­clu­sions, but this new sur­vey data is sup­por­ted by na­tion­al polls that sug­gest Amer­ic­ans are more likely to blame Re­pub­lic­ans for the shut­down than Pres­id­ent Obama and oth­er Demo­crats. Two polls re­leased last week, from CBS and Fox News, each found that the pub­lic blames Re­pub­lic­ans over Demo­crats by about a 10 point mar­gin. Only about 20 per­cent blamed both sides evenly.

The new PPP polls were con­duc­ted on Wed­nes­day, Thursday, and Fri­day of last week, with sample sizes of between 600-700 re­gistered voters in each of the 24 dis­tricts they sur­veyed. Most of the dis­tricts, in­clud­ing sev­er­al in Cali­for­nia, New York, Ohio, and Flor­ida, are con­sidered com­pet­it­ive.

In 17 of the dis­tricts, PPP found the Re­pub­lic­an in­cum­bent trail­ing a gen­er­ic Demo­crat in a head-to-head con­test among re­gistered voters. Most of the in­cum­bents’ ap­prov­al rat­ings were un­der­wa­ter, mean­ing more re­spond­ents dis­ap­proved than ap­proved. 

Demo­crats are hop­ing to re­peat their ex­per­i­ence with the 1995 and 1996 shut­downs, which helped lead to the reelec­tion of Pres­id­ent Clin­ton and to mod­est suc­cess for House Demo­crats.

See the full list of dis­tricts polled at a glance here and in­di­vidu­al dis­tricts here: CA-10, CA-21, CA-31, CO-06, FL-02, FL-10, FL-13, IA-03, IA-04, KY-06, IL-13, MI-01, MI-07, MI-11, NV-03, NY-11, NY-19, NY-23, OH-06, OH-14 PA-07, PA-08, VA-02, and WI-07.

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