Only 11% of Americans approve of the way Congress is doing its job
Americans rarely have good things to say about Congress. But the latest Economist/YouGov Poll is striking in its negative assessments of party leaders in the House and Senate, one that crosses party lines. Many Democrats would prefer House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer be replaced. Republicans want a Speaker more conservative than retiring House Speaker Paul Ryan, and more would be happy to see Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to be replace than would keep him in charge.
Looking only at their approval ratings, all four leaders receive more approval than disapproval from members of their own party.
But even those positive ratings are low when it comes to a politician being measured within his or her political party: 88% of Republicans approve of how Donald Trump is handling his job.
There are more ominous indications of dissatisfaction with Congress even for those in one’s own party. One in three Republicans has an unfavorable opinion of Republican congressional members. One in four Democrats sees their party’s congressional delegation unfavorably. Only 9% overall say this Congress has accomplished more than usual this session, and more than four times that number say it has accomplished less.
The GOP control both chambers, but Republicans still disapprove two to one of how Congress is handling its job. Democrats disapprove by more than seven to one, independents by more than ten to one.
And even though partisans may approve of their leadership, it’s clear many want something different. Some concern may be ideological: 51% of Republicans want the person who follows Paul Ryan as House GOP leader to be more conservative than the current Speaker. That’s twice as many as the share of Republicans who want someone ideologically like Ryan. Just one in ten want a less conservative Speaker.
As for the men who could succeed Ryan, few Republicans have an opinion of Representatives Kevin McCarthy (California) or Jim Jordan (Ohio). More Republicans have an opinion of Majority Whip Steve Scalise (Louisiana), and it is favorable, though that may be as much because Scalise was shot during a baseball practice last year (an event that received much media coverage) as because of his work in Congress.
Ryan will be replaced, as he is leaving Congress at the end of his term. The other Congressional leaders give no indication of leaving their posts, though many even in their own party think they should. Twice as many Republicans would replace Mitch McConnell as would keep him as Senate GOP Leader, while Democrats are split on their leaders.