Low Congress Approval Ratings Weighing Heavily on Republicans

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 24: Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) holds a news conference in the House Visitors Center following a Republican caucus meeting in the U.S. Capitol March 24, 2017 in Washington, DC. In a big setback to the agenda of President Donald Trump and the Speaker, …
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Negative approval ratings continue to dog Washington with 62 percent saying they have an unfavorable opinion of Congress. This compares with only 34 percent who give a favorable rating and the harsh opinion is weighing heavily on the Republican majority, especially House Speaker Paul Ryan.

A new poll by Pew Research Center shows the continued dour outlook respondents have about Washington with 24 percent saying they have a very unfavorable view and 38 percent saying they have a mostly unfavorable view of Congress. Meanwhile, only a third (34 percent) say they have a positive view of Congress.

Pew found that majorities of respondents from both parties have had negative feelings about Congress, but perhaps unsurprisingly, Republican feelings have rebounded a bit with the GOP takeover of the majority in the latest review, 44 percent of those leaning Republican have positive feelings about Congress. That is up from 31 percent since last June.

For Democrats, fully 69 percent have an unfavorable view of Congress while the favorable views changed only slightly down to 27 percent from the 32 percent seen last June.

The poll ratings for Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan are no better. Pew found that 54 percent disapprove of the job the Speaker is doing. Twenty-nine percent approve while 17 percent had no opinion.

More worrisome for the Wisconsinite is that at 29 percent his ratings are lower than most of the previous Speakers including Republican John Boehner (36 percent), Democrat Nancy Pelosi (35 percent), and Republican Newt Gingrich (34 percent).

While 51 percent of Republicans approve of the job Ryan is doing, 75 percent of Democrats disapprove. But at 31 percent, the number of Republicans who disapprove of Ryan is higher than the number of Republicans who disapproved of either Boehner (19 percent) or Gingrich (23 percent) as those two leaders retired from the position.

Republicans are also vexed by the 53 percent overall who say that the Trump administration is not doing enough to work with the Democrats in Congress while only 36 percent say the administration is doing the right amount of working with the other side. Americans overall feel similarly about Democrat cooperation with 57 percent saying the party is not doing enough to work with Trump while 34 percent say they are doing just about enough.

On a more partisan break down, 64 percent of Republicans say Trump is handling the job of working with Democrats well. As to their own party approach, 52 percent of Democrats say their party’s effort to work with Trump is about right.

Finally, in what might be some bad news for President Trump, most Republicans say that GOP lawmakers don’t necessarily have to back Trump in everything he does. Only 43 percent of Republicans say Republicans have to back the president while 55 percent told Pew that Republicans are not obligated to back every move Trump makes.

The poll was based on telephone interviews between April 5 and 11 of 1,501 adults over 18 and figured at a 95 percent level of confidence.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com.


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