US fiscal crisis sees Republicans’ public approval rating drop to new low: survey

AFP, WASHINGTON

Wed, Oct 23, 2013 - Page 7

The recent partial shutdown of the US government has taken a stinging toll on the image of the Republican Party, according to a poll published yesterday.

The Washington Post-ABC News survey showed that the US public’s opinion of the party has sunk to an all-time low, with nearly two-thirds of respondents — 63 percent — saying they held an unfavorable view of Republicans, compared with 32 percent who view them favorably.

The shutdown was sparked after Republicans driven by the party’s ultra-conservative Tea Party faction tried to make a bill to make funding the government contingent on gutting US President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law.

The messy 16-day shutdown ended only when the US Congress was staring at an imminent deadline to raise Washington’s borrowing authority — or face the prospect of the US’ first-ever debt default — and ultimately passed a bill to fund the government and raise that debt limit, albeit in both cases just for a few more months.

According to the poll, only one-quarter of the US public hold a positive view of the Tea Party in the wake of the shutdown.

However, Obama’s Democrats did not emerge unscathed from the Washington gridlock.

More than six in 10 of those polled disapproved of how the Democratic Party handled budget negotiations.

Unfavorable ratings of the Democrats rose to a record high of 49 percent, although Obama’s overall ratings held steady.

More than half of respondents — 53 percent — blamed Republicans for the deadlock, 29 percent blamed Obama and 15 percent said both sides were equally to blame.

The survey was conducted between Thursday and Sunday, with 1,002 representative voters polled.