Texas Sen. Ted Cruz on Friday sought to cast doubt on the results of a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal that reflected widespread public blame toward the GOP for the government shutdown and Cruz's own popularity suffering.
After delivering a hard-charging defense Friday morning of a strategy linking funding the government to defunding Obamacare -- a strategy spearheaded by Cruz, which many critics argue contributed to the ongoing shutdown -- Cruz quibbled with the methodology of the poll.
"If you seek out liberal Obama supporters and ask them their views, they're going to tell you they're liberal Obama supporters. That's not reflective of where this country is," Cruz told NBC News in an interview at the Capitol.
Even when Democrats are removed from the results of the poll, NBC/WSJ pollsters calculate that the results still show strongly negative reactions from independents and Republicans about the government shutdown and the GOP.
In the full poll, for example, 70 percent of respondents said that the GOP has put its own agenda ahead of what is good for the country. With Democrats removed, that number is still a majority of respondents at 56 percent.
Sixty-five percent of the total respondents said that the shutdown is having a "great deal" or "quite a bit" of an effect on the American economy. With Democrats removed, the percentage is 58 percent.
Cruz also asserted that the poll's findings were undercut by the fact that nearly 20 percent of the poll's sample were government employees -- and therefore, according to Cruz, inclined to oppose the shutdown and support President Barack Obama.
"I'll note that that poll was very heavily weighted with an awful lot of Democrats with an awful lot of Obama supporters and 20 percent of the people polled were government workers," Cruz said. "So, I don't think it's surprising that the people who work for the government who are supporters of the president and who are Democrats support the president, are Democrats and blame Republicans for the things that are bad in this country," he said.
The criticism calls to mind many of the "unskew" arguments made by conservative proponents of Mitt Romney in the months leading up to last year's presidential election. Those conservatives criticized most mainstream polls -- which largely reflected an advantage for President Barack Obama over Romney -- because of the partisan identification of poll respondents.
The most recent NBC/WSJ poll comprised of 43 percent who identified themselves as Democrats (either strongly, not very strongly or lean), 32 percent who identified themselves as Republicans (either strongly, not very strongly, or lean), and another 19 percent who are strictly independent. That 11-point Democratic advantage is consistent with the combined data for all of the NBC/WSJ polls this year – a 13-point Democratic edge.
Moreover, the poll did show that 20 percent said someone in their household was a government worker (either local, state, or federal). But the NBC/WSJ pollsters say that such a result is consistent with other polls and statistical data. (After all, military personnel and teachers would be considered government workers.)
Cruz's own numbers took a turn toward the negative. The number of Americans who view the freshman senator negatively more than doubled since June, from 12 percent to 28 percent.
NBC News' Katie Wall contributed reporting.
First published October 11 2013, 1:23 PM