Vulnerable Republicans break with party

Nearly all of the House's most vulnerable Republican incumbents broke with their party and voted in favor of a deal to end the shutdown and prevent a possible default, underscoring how politically perilous the shutdown has become for the party.

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The House voted 285-144 in favor of the bill late Wednesday night, after it passed the Senate with bipartisan support.

Every Democrat voted for the bill, while a large majority of Republicans opposed it, with 87 voting with Democrats in favor.

Of the 17 Republicans running for reelection in districts President Obama won in 2012, only one, Rep. Jeff Denham (Calif.), opposed the measure.

And of the 20 incumbents the National Republican Congressional Committee has deemed its most vulnerable, only seven opposed the measure: Reps. Denham, Steve Southerland (Fla.), Keith Rothfus (Pa.), Bob Gibbs (Ohio), Bill Johnson (Ohio), Tom Reed (N.Y.) and Jackie Walorski (Ind.).

The choice to break with the majority of their party and vote to end the shutdown comes as polling shows Republicans taking the brunt of the blame for the situation — and the shutdown potentially putting control of the House in play.

Democrats need 17 seats to take back the majority, a particularly difficult get in a president's second midterm, when the party in the White House typically loses seats.

But polling conducted by Democratic firm Public Policy Polling for progressive group MoveOn.org of a handful of vulnerable GOP-held districts showed generic Democratic challengers getting a boost after poll respondents were told the Republican incumbent supported the shutdown.

That polling prompted speculation that the fallout from the shutdown could carry over into next year's elections and push Republicans out of power in the House.

It's early yet, and it's unlikely that voters will sustain the level of anger they've recently exhibited with the GOP for the next year. Republicans, too, believe their continued efforts to dismantle ObamaCare — which remains unpopular nationwide — will insulate them from the backlash.

Democrats were already out swinging late Wednesday night at some of their top targets who voted no, however.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) declared in a statement issued after the vote that "House Republicans appear to have learned nothing from this self-inflicted debacle — despite engineering this crisis, a majority of House Republicans refused to vote for a solution tonight and instead tried to inflict more pain for the middle class."

House Majority PAC, one of the main super-PACs working to elect Democrats to the House, slammed Southerland — one of its nine top targets — in a release that characterized a vote against raising the debt ceiling as a "political weapon of mass destruction."

“Steve Southerland’s government shutdown has already cost $20 billion and preventing our nation from being able to pay its bills would roil economies around the world, but Southerland chose to throw caution to the wind and put politics – not the families of north and northwest Florida – first,” said Andy Stone, the PAC's communications director. “Voters won’t soon forget that Steve Southerland recklessly chose to use a ‘political weapon of mass destruction’ to throw them under the bus.”

And Reed was slammed by Democratic opponent Martha Robertson as "reckless and irresponsible."

“Although Congressman Reed tries to pose as a moderate while in New York, his actions tell a different story. His obstructionism in the face of this crisis is reckless and irresponsible, and shows his willingness to put the extreme ideology of the Tea Party ahead of the U.S. economy and his constituents," she said in a statement.

Even those vulnerable Republicans who voted in favor of the deal were under attack Wednesday night, as the DCCC blasted reporters with a release charging they had done too little, too late.

"The past three weeks of pain for the people of Virginia could all have been avoided if Congressman [Scott] Rigell [R-Va.] had worked across the aisle in September – or any day since then – instead of engaging in irresponsible brinksmanship,” said DCCC spokeswoman Emily Bittner in the release.

--This piece was updated at 9 a.m. to reflect comment from the DCCC.