The numbers that matter in Washington are not the ones tossed around in discussions of debt ceilings or continuing resolutions.
The numbers that matter are found in the polls of public reaction to the ongoing government shutdown, and to the prospect that a bad circumstance could grow dramatically worse with the undermining of the "full faith and credit" of the federal government.
Those poll numbers explain why there has been at least some movement on the part of House Republicans -- who engineered the shutdown as part of a scheme to derail implementation of the Affordable Care Act -- to back down from their most hard-line positions.
The latest data from NBC News and The Wall Street Journal is devastating for the GOP.
Fifty-three percent of Americans surveyed blame the GOP for the shutdown, while just 31 percent blame President Obama. Overall, approval ratings for the president are far better than those for the Republicans, and approval of the Affordable Care Act has spiked since the standoff began.
To the extent that this is a blame game, the Republicans are shouldering the burden. Indeed, their circumstance is far worse than in the shutdown of the mid-1990s. Then, only 44 percent of Americans blamed the Gingrich-led Republicans, while 33 percent blamed then-President Bill Clinton.
But this isn't merely a blame game.
This is politics. And politics is a competition for power.
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