U.S. Warms Up to Boehner Post-Shutdown, But Overall View Still Frosty
Speaker of the House John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has suffered badly in the favorability polls. He hit his lowest point in October, but recently has seen a small relief from the negative views. Still, he remains viewed in an unfavorable light by a majority of those polled by Gallup in February, with 50 percent saying that their overall opinion of the Republican leader was unfavorable, compared to 32 percent who have a favorable opinion.
According to the poll, back in 2009 when Gallup first asked about him, 52 percent had never heard of him, or had no opinion, and a small majority of 25 percent viewed him favorably compared to the 23 percent who saw him unfavorably. Since then, he has largely had more negative views than positive, especially during the government shutdown and debt limit standoff in Congress, when his entire party had “the lowest party favorability ratings ever recorded by Gallup,” with his own ratings at 27 percent favorable and 51 percent unfavorable.
Part of Boehner’s image problem could be related to his relationship with the executive branch — and specifically with President Barack Obama, which may be warming up for 2014 in ways it hasn’t in the past; Boehner met with Obama for the first time since December of 2012 on Tuesday. “They agreed that there is a lot of work to do the rest of the year, and it is important to work together wherever we can find common ground,” said one of Boehner’s aides to press in an email — as reported by the New York Times. The two discussed items that included healthcare reform, immigration, Afghanistan, California droughts, and the highway funding bill.
“We’re going to continue to engage with Congress, with Republicans, in an effort to see where we can find common ground to move the ball forward for the American people. Where Congress refuses to act, the President is going to use every authority available to him to advance an agenda that expands opportunity and rewards hard work,” said Press Secretary Jay Carney in the daily briefing Wednesday. Obama’s own favorability ratings may be poor — but haven’t been quite as poor as Boehner’s. This isn’t an unusual difference in polls for politicians holding these roles in general, according to Gallup, which says that presidents that have been elected tend to have a considerably higher favorability rating, while speakers usually do not. Leaders in Congress generally have not been loved as of late, with Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) perhaps the least of all four in April of 2013 with a unfavorable rating of 48 percent and a favorable rating of 31 percent according to Gallup. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) received an unfavorable rating of 38 percent and favorable rating of 27 percent; John Boehner polled at 41 percent and 31 percent, respectively; and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) at 34 percent and 26 percent, respectively.
Generally, Congress’ job approval has also been low, sitting at 12 percent approval as of February 10, and with the average for 2013 a record low of 14 percent approval. When asked at the start of 2014 what they considered the biggest national concern, the highest percent — 21 percent — put “Dissatisfaction with government/Congress/politicians; poor leadership/corruption/abuse of power” as the most important problem facing America today. The economy and unemployment followed soon after, as did healthcare and the budget deficit.