Post-election gains for GOP leadership, but not for Congress

November 12, 2014, 3:29 PM GMT+0

Mitch McConnell and John Boehner are viewed more favorably than before the midterms, but Congressional approval remains in single digits

It’s good to win.

Although the GOP Congressional leadership continues to receive negative ratings from the American public, the latest Economist/YouGov Poll shows some gains for the House Speaker and the soon-to-be Senate Majority leader in public estimation. House Speaker John Boehner’s favorable rating has jumped eight points, while the current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s favorable assessment has risen by ten.

That jump in favorability wasn’t across the board. Prior to the election, the country’s top Republicans were as likely to be disliked as liked by members of their own party. But success in the election breeds popularity – among Republicans.

While Democrats and independents changed hardly at all in their assessment of the GOP leaders, Republican favorability rose 24 points for Boehner and 18 points for McConnell.

The boost in popularity from his own partisans now puts Boehner on a par with the Democratic House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi, whose ratings changed hardly at all after the election. Opinions of McConnell are now marginally better than opinions of Harry Reid, the current Senate Majority Leader. Just 23% have a favorable opinion of Reid this week, about the same percentage as last week.

Congressional leaders don’t usually get much love. But the institution Boehner and McConnell will lead gets even less. Opinions of Congress overall have changed hardly at all from its abysmal ratings before the election. Only 9% approve of how Congress is handling its job, about where the current Congress has languished in public esteem for the last few years.

The Republican victory has not improved the mood of the country. In fact, even fewer people this week than last think the country is headed in the right direction.

This week’s rating is among the worst of the entire year. The percentage of Democrats thinking the country is headed in the right direction dropped nine points since the Economist/YouGov Poll conducted immediately before the election, down to 40% today. Just about as many Democrats say it is seriously off on the wrong track. Now just 15% of independents say the country is going in the right direction, down seven points since last week. And Republicans continue to overwhelmingly believe the country is off on the wrong track. The percentage of Republicans saying the country is headed in the right direction has increased after the GOP victories – but only from 7% to 13%.

See the full poll results

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here.

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