Republicans have hurt themselves in the battle for the House. Here’s how.

Republicans have hurt themselves in the battle for the House. Here’s how.

The budget standoff that led to a government shutdown exacted a heavy toll on the Republican Party’s image. Now comes fresh evidence to suggest it has complicated the GOP’s effort to retain its House majority.

Data in the new Washington Post-ABC News poll should worry House Republican campaign strategists for several reasons, even as the election is still more than a year away and the GOP still has the upper hand overall. Below are the three biggest causes for concern.

1. A small cushion in GOP districts. Democrats hold a comfortable 48 percent to 40 percent lead among registered voters in the generic ballot test. But it’s not just the topline national numbers (which are not perfect predictors) that should worry Republicans. It’s what’s going on in Republican-held districts that should turn more heads. Republicans hold an 8-point lead in districts they control, compared to Democrats’ 30-point lead in their districts. An 8-point lead might not seem all that bad. But consider that we’re talking about all GOP districts here, the vast majority of which are very conservative and not at any risk of switching control.  What that means is that in the swing GOP seats that will decide who wins the majority, the Republican advantage is probably smaller, if it even exists. Meanwhile, Democrats, who have to play heavy defense in addition to going on offense, appear to be in the better position to buttress their incumbents. Continue reading “Republicans have hurt themselves in the battle for the House. Here’s how.”