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Post-Shutdown Polls Find Americans Angry, GOP Majority Potentially Vulnerable

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The aftermath of the government shutdown leaves the public angry and profoundly anti-incumbent, according to two polls released Tuesday morning, which confirm that Americans lay much of the blame for the ordeal on the GOP.

Just over 80 percent disapprove of the shutdown, a Washington Post/ABC poll finds, and wide majorities say it has damaged the United States' economy, its image abroad, and the morale of federal employees. Even more -- 87 percent -- say it's indicative of broader problems in Washington.

Other gauges of the national mood bear out that pessimism. Only 28 percent of Americans think the country is on the right track, the lowest number since 2011, and down 8 points from July. Just 23 percent are satisfied with how the political system is working.

Congressional approval is at a miserable 12 percent in the Post/ABC poll, its lowest point in 39 years. More Americans disapprove than approve of their own representative for the first time in at least 24 years. In a USA Today/Princeton Survey Research Associates poll, 47 percent of Americans say Congress would be improved if every member were voted out, while just 4 percent think it would be worse.

While the 2014 elections remain more than a year away, and much in the political landscape could change before that time, the polls present a potentially troubling picture for Republicans.

"Those findings are similar to the public's views in previous years when voter dismay cost one side or the other control of the House," USA Today's Susan Page writes. "In 1994, when Democrats lost their majority, 40% said Congress would be better off if most members were replaced. In 2006, when Republicans lost control, 42% held that view."

In the Post/ABC poll, 48 percent of registered voters said they would prefer to vote for a Democratic House candidate, while 40 percent would vote for a Republican, although those numbers are unchanged from a May survey.

President Barack Obama, congressional Democrats and congressional Republicans all get negative ratings for their handling of the budget negotiations. A record high 63 percent of Americans view the Republican Party unfavorably, up 10 points since Sept. 30, the day before the shutdown. The Democratic Party's unfavorable rating also stands at a record high of 49 percent, a 7-point increase from Sept. 30.

The GOP, however, takes the bulk of blame for the shutdown In the Post/ABC poll, a 53 percent majority of Americans blame Republicans more for the shutdown, while 29 percent blame Obama more. In the USA Today/PSRA poll, which asked about the two parties, 39 percent blame Republicans more, and 19 percent primarily blame Democrats.

While Obama's ratings have declined fairly steadily since his second inauguration, his approval in this poll stands at 48 percent, with 49 percent disapproving -- essentially unchanged from his standing this summer (though other polls have found a somewhat steeper decline). Approval for his implementation of the health care law has actually increased 7 points since mid-September, with most of the improvement coming from those who formerly expressed no opinion.

"The survey highlights just how badly the GOP hard-liners and the leaders who went along with them misjudged the public mood," the Post's Dan Balz and Scott Clement write, referring to the Republican push to defund Obamacare that led to the budget impasse.

The results line up with polls taken during the shutdown, such as one that put the Republican Party's favorability at a record low, and a poll released yesterday by CNN that found a majority of Americans think it's bad for the country that Republicans control the House.

The Post/ABC poll surveyed 1,002 Americans, while the USA Today/PSRA poll surveyed 1,001 Americans. Both were conducted between Oct. 17 and Oct. 20, using live telephone interviews.

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