The fact that Republicans are now trying to reduce the pain of the government shutdown with several small bills is a clear sign they are the ones starting to feel the blame. Another indication that this shutdown is hurting the Republican brand is a new poll by Public Policy Polling.

We find Democrats improving their position on the generic Congressional ballot in the wake of all the controversy about the government shutdown. Democrats lead 45/40 on it, up from a 43/42 spread in July. Two things have caused that shift- Republicans had a 39/27 advantage with independents over the summer but have blown that and now there’s a tie with them at 34% each. Republicans have also become less supportive of their own party, going from an 82/10 intention to vote GOP to 78/13. That shift has come largely among moderate Republicans who supported their own party 72/17 in July but now do so by only a 59/22 spread.

Approval numbers for Barack Obama and the Democrats and Republicans in Congress come out about how you would expect. Obama’s approval rating is on negative ground at 45/51, as we’ve found in our polling for months now. Congressional Democrats are unpopular at a 39/57 approval, but Congressional Republicans are far worse off at 23/69.

It is worth noting this poll was taken before the shutdown, back when Republicans were merely threatening it. If the shutdown continues, I will be very interested to see the results of the first surveys that are conducted entirely while the shutdown is in place. These early polls could simply show the damage to the GOP.

At this point the Congressional Republicans “plan” remains that Obama will eventually agree to destroy his signature legislative achievement to basically save the GOP from their rapidly slipping poll numbers.