Only 28 percent of the American public has a positive view of the Republican Party, down from 38 percent in September, Gallup finds.  It also is the lowest rating since Gallup first began asking the question in 1992. In fact, since 2001 it’s been on a fairly steady decline from 55 percent in 2001, to 40 percent in 2008, to 28 percent in October 2013. Independents’ dissatisfaction cannot entirely explain this decline, but also theongoing GOP civil war. Consider this contrast: 80 percent of regular Republicans have a favorable view of the Republican party and 19 percent have an unfavorable view; instead 43 percent of tea party sympathizers have an unfavorable view and 55 percent have a favorable view.  If the tea party had a more favorable view of the party it votes for, this would bolster GOP support.

The government shutdown has hit the GOP image from both sides, among middle-of-the-road voters who want Congressional Republicans to do what is necessary to re-open the government, perhaps capitulating to Democrats, and tea party Republicans who want GOP lawmakers to not compromise until Democrats negotiate. For instance, before the partial government shutdown, Pew found that while 54 percent of non-tea party Republicans wanted Republicans to “compromise, even on a budget you disagree with”, only 20 percent of tea partiers agreed. Instead 71 percent of tea partiers want Republicans to “stand by principles, even if it shut the government down.”

Research has shown that extreme policy positions do not completely explain unwillingness to compromise, but rather the moralization of attitudes and beliefs. Even when compromise could lead to both sides benefiting, at least in the short run, those with moralized attitudes are less willing to compromise and will punish political leaders willing to negotiate.