So how will the shutdown/debt ceiling confrontation affect the Republicans in the long run, meaning in the 2014 elections? Put me with the people who believe that this showdown by itself will be long forgotten by the 2014 elections. What will matter is if the Republicans repeat the same stunt three or four times. That will do them in.
On the one hand, I think that as next year progresses, some things will relieve the pressure to be as crazy as possible. People will actually start getting insurance under Obamacare, so Republicans will no longer be seeking to block implementation, but to take people's insurance away. I can't see that going well for them. Right now they are kept in line by the threat of a primary challenge. But the primaries will happen, and one by one Republicans will no longer fear such a challenge. Some will win and be safe. Some will lose and be lame ducks, angry and resentful that their best crazy act wasn't enough. Some will prevail and actually fear a challenge by a Democrat. And as the election looms closer and closer, Republicans will have more and more to fear from a shutdown/breach. On the other hand, if things look bad enough, Republicans may decide that they are doomed anyhow, so they might as well do as much damage as possible before they go.
Furthermore, if Republicans go on their best behavior before the election, it will only raise the risk of another showdown after the election. If they win, there will be two more years of this. If they lose, they will see their power ending in two months and be determined to cause as much damage as possible in that time.
Let me say beyond any question, if the Democrats win back the House and hold the Senate in 2014, their first act absolutely MUST be to abolish the debt ceiling. (Abolish the filibuster if necessary to get it through).
The Republicans must be defeated.