Even Republicans don't like their Congressional leaders

July 28, 2015, 2:49 PM UTC

Republicans tend to dislike the GOP leadership in Congress and most see Boehner and McConnell as weak leaders

Congress has been unpopular for a long time:  changes in control seem to matter little.  In this week’s Economist/YouGov Poll just 16% approve of how this Congress is handling its job.  While higher than the single digit ratings Congress has received over much of the last few years, it isn’t much to brag about.  For many in the country, Republican and Democrat, this Congress hasn’t accomplished any more than it usually does. 

Although nearly all Republicans don’t see improvement, at least most don’t think Congress is doing less than usual.   More Democrats and independents say that.

However, Republicans don’t like their leaders.  Just over a third have a favorable opinion about GOP Speaker of the House John Boehner, and only a few more like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.  The overall opinion of both men is even more negative. 

Democratic Congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are also disliked by the overall public, but Democrats give them both favorable ratings.

What do Republicans dislike about the GOP leadership?  For many Republicans, they are neither tough enough nor conservative enough.  More than a third of Republicans say Boehner and McConnell are not conservative enough, while majorities describe each man as a weak leader.  

When it comes to judging both GOP leaders on their performance in office, Republicans are just as likely to disapprove as approve.  Nearly half of all conservatives, whether Republican or not, think each man is not conservative enough, and have unfavorable views of the GOP leaders. 

Conservatives disapprove of the way each man in handling the job (47% of conservatives disapprove of Boehner’s management; 39% disapprove of McConnell).  McConnell’s negatives are lower than Boehner’s in part because about a third of conservatives aren’t sure what to think about McConnell.  Boehner is better-known.

Republicans who don’t like Boehner were asked who they would rather have as House Speaker.  Many don’t know.  A few volunteer the names of Senators and people not in the House.  South Carolina Republican Trey Gowdy, who is now chairing the House Select Committee investigating Benghazi, was named more frequently than any other GOP House member. 

Boehner’s problems with Republicans are obvious looking at the way Republicans describe him.  Asked to give a single word, there are clearly more negative references than positive ones.

Fewer Republicans can say anything about McConnell, but he too suffers from the perception of not being strong enough.  Many Republicans view Boehner and McConnell as “politicians,” and that’s probably not a compliment.

See the Economist/YouGov results

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here.