WHY REPUBLICANS ARE NOT GOING TO GET THE BLAME THEY DESERVE
The conventional wisdom is that the Republican Party is going to pay a significant penalty for shutting down the government and/or driving America to the brink of default (or beyond).
I'd love to think that's true, but I don't believe it.
The reason is that the mainstream political world is heavily invested in the notion that the GOP is a sane, rational, responsible party. We know this because every time the GOP has utterly failed as a party in the past few decades, it's gotten a do-over almost immediately. Everyone in the political mainstream agrees that the GOP should get a mulligan every time it fails.
This goes back to Nixon -- two years after he resigned in disgrace, and his successor horrified many Americans by pardoning him, that successor nearly won the presidency. Two years after that, a disgraced right wing came roaring back in California by getting Proposition 13 passed; two years after that, Ronald Reagan was elected in a landslide.
In 1992, a sitting Republican president was so unpopular that he failed to win even 40% of the popular vote in his reelection bid. Two years later, the GOP was rebranded as the party of Newt Gingrich and swept the midterm elections. A failed effort to drive Bill Clinton from office sent Gingrich to an early retirement, but not to worry: despite peace and prosperity, the Democratic candidate for president in 2000 was subjected to endless mockery and couldn't secure enough votes to win the White House. The GOP was successfully rebranded again.
George W. Bush disgraced himself in office; his party lost Congress in 2006 and the presidency in 2008. Again, not to worry: almost instantly, the GOP was rebranded, first as the party of "pizza summit" moderation (led by the digraced ex-president's brother), then as the home of the tea party, which swept congressional, state, and local elections in 2010.
And after Barack Obama won reelection in 2012, new GOPs were spotted on a regular basis. Marco Rubio is going to lead Republicans to an embrace of immigration reform! Rob Portman will lead them to an embrace of gay marriage! Rand Paul will lead them to a new skepticism about military adventurism! Peter King will lead them away from a dangerous Rand Paul-style isolationism!
So even if Republicans get all the blame for what's about to happen, and plummet in the polls, it doesn't matter: the political establishment will desperately cast about for some "new" GOP, at least until the stench of the shutdown/default moment has lifted. Mainstream journalists will develop a fascination with Chris Christie (he's not a Washington Republican!) or Jeb Bush (he's so reasonable!) or Peter King (he doesn't like Rand Paul or Ted Cruz, and he didn't vote for Bill Clinton's impeachment!) They'll do anything not to admit that that the Republican Party is rotten to the core.