Government shutdown death knell for Republicans in 2014?

“Bataan Death March, amirite?”

Last week, the federal government shut down for the first time in almost 18 years, sounding a death knell for Republicans in the 2014 elections. Few knew this better than Sen. John McCain.

The morning the shutdown began, the Arizona Republican tweeted a Quinnipiac University poll showing that American voters opposed the government shutdown by a 72-22 margin. As we all know, House Republicans tried on multiple occasions to tack on a measure to the budget that would defund the Affordable Care Act, effectively terminating President Barack Obama’s signature health-care legislation.

McCain is a lifelong Republican—you may remember him running against Obama on the GOP ticket in 2008—so why would he tweet such damning numbers?

Because Republicans like him are no longer in control of the party line. The tea party has wrested the wheel from the GOP establishment, and Republicans who can still read the signs see where they’re headed: straight out of Washington, D.C.

Enter Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, the new face of conservatism. Cruz likes to compare universal health-care coverage to Nazi Germany. Given the chance, he’ll spend 21 Bataan Death March-like hours (his words, not mine) telling you why the ACA is a bad idea, using Dr. Seuss’ timeless tome, Green Eggs and Ham, as a metaphor to prove it. (Notably, the book’s protagonist decides he likes the green fare after trying it, which is probably why Cruz is so scared.)

Cruz and his ilk have rallied the conservative base against party affiliates like McCain by publishing works that paint them as Republicans in name only, or RINOs. The tactic has proven effective, forcing GOP moderates up for re-election to stand with tea-party members on some serious firebrand issues. One puppet is former Republican lion Lindsey Graham. Facing tough internal challenges to keep his South Carolina Senate seat, Graham is now taking kamikaze orders from the tea party’s government deconstructionists.

Cue the shutdown.

According to the Quinnipiac poll, Democratic voters oppose it by a 90-6 margin. Independents oppose the shutdown 74-19. Hell, Republicans only support it by a slim 49-44 count, which, given the poll’s 2.5 percent margin of error, actually represents a statistical tie. Given these figures, it’s no wonder Congress has an all-time low approval rating of 10 percent (and dropping).

And it’s certainly cause for alarm for Republicans controlling the house.