Poll: Shutdown Hurting Republicans in Battleground Districts

Alex Seitz-Wald
National Journal

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.

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"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."

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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.

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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-14PA-07, PA-08, VA-02, and WI-07.

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