Yes, the GOP is taking a bath in its poll numbers recently thanks to plunging the government into chaos due to a foot-stomping hissy fit. But Nate Silver (i.e., the dude who correctly called the electoral result in all 50 states last year) is on hand to throw cold water on anyone tempted to read too much into the long-term electoral effects of the shutdown, presuming it is, in fact, coming to a close sometime relatively soon. If you’re the sort currently salivating at the prospect of the Democrats taking back the House in a year, you should probably give it a close read.
I think what Silver has to say here is probably pretty close to reality, although I would branch off from his point six here to note that I think where the real action will be in 2014 is within the GOP itself, and whether the establishment GOP folks are going to finally attempt to punt out the Tea Party GOPers in the primaries. Whether or not the shutdown will have a large electoral impact in 2014, the actual constitution of the GOP’s legislative host (and how well they can be controlled) is going to matter to the people running the party, which is to say, the ones who would probably like a little organization in their organization.
I’m not going to lie when I say that’s probably going to be fun to watch, in the “get the popcorn, people whose politics I largely disagree with are thumping on each other” sort of way. I’m also not going to lie when I say that on balance I think it’s probably better for everyone if the GOP establishment does, in fact, shove the Tea Party types back into a hole. Regardless of their politics, their process boils down to destruction. Indeed, in a very real sense, it doesn’t matter what your politics are, if your process is to grind the world to a halt if you can’t get everything you want.
Which is to say that if what we end up with in 2014 is the House still in GOP hands, but the House GOP comprised of more people who understand and actually care about governance than exist in it today, that’ll count as a victory in my book. The GOP likes to say it’s the party of grown-ups, but unfortunately that’s not true, nor has it been for a while. It would be nice if it started walking toward that direction again, however.