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U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) departs after remarks on the Senate floor as the body prepared to conduct a series of federal budget spending votes at the U.S. Capitol in Washington September 27, 2013. The U.S. government braced on Friday for the possibility
Going down, down, down. Not just your party, Ted. You too.
Liberals share a conviction with conservative that our elected officials would be more popular if only they better represented our beliefs. The difference, however, is that we make our arguments on data based on public opinion. It's no surprise that the best election prognosticators last year were all liberals. Thus, when we say "Democrats need to stand firm on Social Security" or "Democrats shouldn't bomb Syria", we do so with an eye toward public opinion. When we urge our party to move toward us on ideology, we do so to move our party closer to the broader American mainstream.

Conservatives lobby for more conservative policies using nothing more than conviction and a self-certainty unsupported by reality. Indeed, they've created an entire alternate media universe designed to pretend that they have (non-existent) public support. Hence, everything from Fox News to the "unskewed polling" guy play a role: making conservatives feel good about themselves. Heck, they'll buy Ann Coulter's latest screed (remember when she was the most shocking thing in the GOP?) not because they plan on reading the book, but because having it on the NY Times Best Seller list creates the illusion of mass popularity.

Thus, within that culture, there's no conviction more deeply felt than the belief that Republicans lost the White House and Senate because they "weren't conservative enough". In their eyes, pretty much anyone not named "Ted Cruz" is a RINO (Republican in name only) who is subverting their party's chances with an electorate clamoring for draconian conservatism. They point to the House and say "see, Republicans won the House because it was conservative!", ignoring the fact that House Democratic candidates got over a million more votes than their Republican counterparts. They pretend gerrymandering didn't exist.

So after threatening revolt over the continuing budget resolution and debt limit, the GOP establishment finally conceded. In an act of self-immolation, House Speaker John Boehner and company said, "fuck it, have it your way". And their way it's been.

And what a disorganized mess of a disaster wrapped up in a calamity they've made of things. Already in tatters, the GOP conservatives now running the show have managed to utterly decimate the GOP brand. When the RNC talked about "rebranding" early this year (a lifetime ago, seemingly), we all assumed they wanted to broaden their appeal, not shrink their already rump base.

Because if aggressive and uncompromising conservatism were supposed to rally Americans behind the conservative crusade against Obamacare, Social Security, and everything else in the budget that doesn't go "bang!", how to explain this?

Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) favorability rating has collapsed as the public has become more familiar with him, according to a Gallup survey released on Thursday.

The survey found that 26 percent have a favorable view of the Texas Republican, against 36 percent unfavorable. That makes 62 percent of the public that has an opinion on Cruz, up from 42 percent in June, when 24 percent had a favorable view of him against 18 percent unfavorable – a 16-point negative swing.

Put another way, Cruz's name ID has gone up 18 points, and 16 of those have slotted on the negative side. Or put yet another way, pretty much everyone who is first hearing about Cruz now for the first time hates him.

Don't expect the conservative media to get a new dose of reality. Even among all the shitty polling for them, Rush Limbaugh is saying things like:

Republicans are winning this, but there's an all-out effort within the Republican Party and the D.C. establishment to get them to cave, even when they're winning this.
As many have joked in recent days, the GOP is winning the way Charlie Sheen was winning. You can't doubt the sincerity of their professions of impending victory. They believe it to their very core, because their media friends are saying it over and over again. It makes them happy and safe and secure and righteous.

The Republican establishment gave its rebels a chance to put up or shut up. They certainly didn't put up. But shut up? They won't manage that either.

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