The AHCA fiasco has hurt Paul Ryan, but not President Trump

March 30, 2017, 3:45 PM GMT+0

New data shows that Ryan's job approval rating has dropped below 50% among both Republicans and Trump voters

The American Health Care Act, the GOP replacement for Obamacare, is — at least for now — just a memory. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan himself has admitted that "Obamacare is the law of the land … for the foreseeable future."

The latest Economist/YouGov Poll suggests that opinions of Ryan and the House Republicans, but not President Trump, have diminished after the GOP-majority House of Representatives failed to vote on the proposed health care legislation. And that loss of support comes almost entirely from Republicans and Trump voters — not Democrats.

Last week, 59% of Republicans and 55% of Trump voters approved of the way Paul Ryan was handling his job as Speaker of the House. This week, approval dropped 12 points among both groups. In fact, as of now, slightly more Trump voters disapprove of Ryan’s performance than approve.

Overall, Ryan’s job approval rating is negative: 49% of the public disapproves — nearly doubling those who approve.

Meanwhile, there has been almost no change in how the public evaluates Donald Trump’s performance as President: 41% of the public approves; 47% disapproves. That is about the same as last week.

The GOP health care bill’s failure without even a vote was seen as a good thing. 45% of the public said they were “relieved” it had failed to get enough support to pass. A quarter were disappointed. Republicans, however, felt differently. The opinions of those who might have gained the most from the bill — better-off Americans — matched those of the public overall. A majority of those with annual family incomes exceeding $100,000 said they were relieved the bill failed.

By more than two to one, Republicans give the President credit for working as hard as he could to pass the AHCA. Those who voted for him in November are even more likely to say he did what he could. 62% of Trump voters said he worked as hard as he could to pass the bill. Just 20% think he could have tried harder.

Republicans don’t blame the President for the bill’s withdrawal in the face of defeat. There are other culprits: Ryan, the Freedom Caucus, other Republicans in Congress. Many Republicans chose Democrats in Congress as most responsible for the AHCA non-passage, just as Trump himself did in one of his tweets (though he also blamed the Freedom Caucus), but more said Ryan or one or another group of Republicans were responsible.

Trump holds an advantage over Ryan when it comes to GOP opinion. Last May, Republicans made it clear in an Economist/YouGov Poll that they preferred Trump to Ryan. At that time, Ryan had yet to endorse Trump for the Presidency, and Republican primary voters overwhelmingly thought he should. Also, twice as many Republican voters held favorable views of Trump than unfavorable. The same voters were narrowly unfavorable towards Ryan.

Trump’s November victory and the GOP’s continuing control of both Houses of Congress helped raise Republican opinions of both men. The health care bill’s failure changed that for Ryan. The loss also lowered expectations for what this Congress can accomplish, along with the confidence of Republicans in their Congressional party. Last week, 40% of Republicans and 43% of Trump voters thought this Congress would accomplished more than usual. This week, the percentage of Republicans saying that is down 13 points; the percentage of Trump voters agreeing has dropped 15 points.

The overall opinion Republicans hold of their partisan compatriots in Congress has also fallen: this week, fewer than two in three Republicans have a favorable view of the GOP Congressional representatives (down from 70% to 63%), and only 53% of Trump voters are favorable (a drop of 10 points since last week).

As for health care specifically, expectations for any kind of repeal of Obamacare have lowered dramatically. Americans accept that the President and Congress will move on to other issues. Last week, more than half the public said they expected the Affordable Care Act to be repealed this year. This week, that percentage dropped to under a third, and just about equals the percentage who now don’t think it will ever happen. Last week, just 13% said Obamacare would never be repealed.