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CNN Poll: 75% say most Republicans in Congress don't deserve re-election

By Paul Steinhauser, CNN Political Editor
updated 6:31 AM EDT, Tue October 22, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • CNN poll finds significantly more feel that Republicans should be voted out
  • Poll also finds that half say they would vote for Democrat while only 43% would go GOP
  • Polling expert cautions that with midterms a year away, there's time for sentiment to change
  • Six in 10 say they find the tea party too extreme and that brings GOP numbers down

Washington (CNN) -- In a sign of the political hangover congressional Republicans are suffering in the wake of the government shutdown, three-quarters of Americans in a new national poll say that most GOP members of Congress don't deserve to be re-elected.

A CNN/ORC International survey released Monday also found a majority saying that the Republicans' policies are too extreme. And according to the poll, Democrats have an 8-point advantage over the Republicans in an early indicator in the battle for control of Congress. But with more than a year to go until the 2014 midterm elections, there's plenty of time for these numbers to change.

CNN Poll: House Republicans, Boehner take big post-shutdown hit

The poll was conducted Friday through Sunday, just after the end of the 16-day partial federal government shutdown that was sparked in part by an effort by House conservatives to dismantle the health care law, which is President Barack Obama's signature domestic achievement.

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A majority of those questioned blamed congressional Republicans for the government shutdown and said the President was the bigger winner in the deal to end the crisis.

The survey also found nearly eight in 10 saying the shutdown was bad for the country, and the standoff has led to a loss of confidence and satisfaction in government. And more than seven in 10 think that another shutdown is likely.

Anger directed at congressional Republicans

More than seven in 10 questioned in the survey said that most members of Congress don't deserve to be re-elected, with nearly four in 10 saying even their own representative doesn't deserve a return ticket to Washington next year. Both figures are hovering around all-time highs in CNN polling.

"Although incumbent members of Congress of both parties are not very popular, the shutdown seems to have only affected views of GOP incumbents," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said.

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Three-fourths of people questioned in the survey said that most congressional Republicans don't deserved to be re-elected, 21 percentage points higher than the 54% who say most Democrats don't deserve another term in office. Only one in five say most Republicans deserve to be re-elected; 42% say the same thing about Democrats on Capitol Hill.

Democrats hold early 2014 polling lead

The shutdown seems to be making an impact on polls asking the generic ballot question: Would you vote for the Democratic or Republican candidate in your congressional district. There is no mention of the names of any candidates.

Fifty percent of registered voters questioned said they would vote for the Democrat in their district, with 42% backing the Republican. The 8-point Democratic margin in the CNN poll is the same as in a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey and close to the 9-point advantage for the Democrats in the generic ballot in a recent Quinnipiac University poll.

While the generic ballot is a much-watched gauge, it's important to remember that the battle for the House is a district-by-district fight, rather than a national race, and just 17 of the 232 House Republicans are in districts won by Obama in last year's election.

Obama wants new approach after shutdown

"We're a long way away from saying that the Democrats have a chance to regain control of the House," Holland cautioned. "There is more than a year to go before any votes are actually cast and the 'generic ballot' question is not necessarily a good predictor of the actual outcome of 435 separate elections. A year before the 2010 midterms, for example, the Democrats held a 6-point lead on the generic ballot."

The Republicans eventually won back control of the House in 2010, thanks to a historic 63-seat pickup.

PDF: Read the entire poll | Satisfied?

GOP too extreme?

One major concern for Republicans is the growing number of Americans who think the party is too extreme. Fifty-six percent now feel that way, up from 48% in March. By contrast, 52% say that the policies of the Democrats are generally mainstream (with 42% saying they are too extreme), which is unchanged since March.

"Any connection with the tea party movement isn't helping the GOP," Holland added. "Six in 10 Americans now believe that the tea party movement is too extreme; only one in four consider it to be generally mainstream."

The poll indicates that Republicans themselves are divided on whether the 4 1/2-year-old grassroots conservative movement is too extreme or generally mainstream.

Four things we learned from government shutdown

Blame Game

Fifty-two percent say congressional Republicans were more responsible for the shutdown, with 34% pointing more fingers at the President. At 45%-36%, independents place more blame with the GOP in Congress.

The poll indicates Obama was the clear winner. Sixty-four percent say the President got more of what he wanted out of the deal to end the shutdown, with less than one in five saying the GOP in Congress were the winners. More than seven in 10 Republicans and conservatives agree that Obama got more of what he wanted.

Fifty-five percent of the public say the GOP strategy to link dismantling parts of Obamacare to funding the government was a mistake, with 42% saying it made sense at the time. While vast majority of Democrats say the strategy was a mistake, independents are divided, and most Republicans say the move made sense.

The next shutdown ?

While the GOP doesn't fare well in the poll, the poll suggests that the public is looking for almost as much compromise from the Democrats as from the Republicans in any bipartisan agreements.

Forty-nine percent say the Republicans should give up more than the Democrats in any future bipartisan agreement, but nearly as many -- 44% -- would prefer to see the Dems give up more than the GOP.

And seven in 10 say that another shutdown is likely when current funding for the federal government runs out in mid-January.

"That's probably because Americans have lost confidence in the people who run government," Holland said.

According to the poll, only a third say they have a great deal or some confidence in the people who run government, down 10 points since May. And only 14% say they are satisfied with the way the nation is being governed.

"That's an 11-point drop since March and is lower than the 26% who felt that way in September of 1973, when the Watergate crisis was in full swing," Holland added.

In another sign of anti-Washington sentiment, six in 10 say the government should not do more to solve the country's problems.

he poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International October 18-20, with 841 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

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