Dan Balz

By Dan Balz, Chief Correspondent
March 21, 2015

The Gallup organization recently recorded another dreary milestone in American politics. For the first time since the polling organization began tracking public impressions of the Republican and Democratic parties back in 1992, neither party has a favorability rating above 40 percent.

Whether this is now the rough new normal or an aberrational moment isn’t the issue. What’s most interesting is the degree to which the public now registers sizable disapproval of both major parties that represent them. That reflects another turn in the downward spiral in public confidence.
Dan Balz is Chief Correspondent at The Washington Post. He has served as the paper’s National Editor, Political Editor, White House correspondent and Southwest correspondent. View Archive

At this point, just 37 percent of Americans say they have a favorable impression of the Republican Party. That is a decline of five points since the midterm elections, when Republicans scored major victories and interpreted the results as a sign of public affirmation for their agenda and leadership.

It also represents a reversal of an upward swing that had begun in late 2013, when the party’s rating had plummeted to 28 percent after the partial shutdown of the government engineered by the GOP hard-liners in Congress.

In the wake of their midterm victories, which put them in charge of both the House and Senate, Republicans promised they would prove they can govern. The first months of the new Congress have undermined that assertion.

The GOP has struggled to pull its warring wings together. The leadership in the House suffered an embarrassing moment when conservatives blocked a temporary funding bill, forcing House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) eventually to rely on Democrats to get the job done.

This past week, the party has presented a budget blueprint in the House that, in addition to relying on gimmicks, sparked a dispute between GOP defense hawks and spending hawks. That dispute is heading to the House floor.

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