By David Thornton
The survey of 1,053 adults conducted last week found that only 29 percent had a favorable view of the Republican Party. This is the lowest that the GOP has ever polled since the question was first asked in 1992 and is 13 points lower than the party’s approval six months ago.
The poll, conducted for CNN by SSRS, an independent polling company, showed that Democrats had an 11-point advantage over Republicans at 41 percent. President Donald Trump polled slightly more popular than his party at 33 percent.
Congressional leaders shared the low approval ratings on a bipartisan basis. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had the lowest approval at 20 percent while Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) was highest at 32 percent. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) had approval ratings of 29 and 28 percent respectively.
The poll seems to underscore a shift in control of the Republican Party. President Trump is more popular with Republicans than the party’s congressional leaders. Seventy-nine percent of Republicans think President Trump is leading the country in the right direction compared to 40 percent who believe that of Republican leaders in Congress. Fifty-two percent of Democrats believed their party is moving the country in the right direction.
The previous low point for Republicans was in October 2013 after the government shutdown. That month, Republican approval dropped to 30 percent in two polls.
The precipitous drop in GOP approval does not necessarily portend a disaster at the polls in 2018. In many cases, voters view their own congressman more positively than the party or Congress as a whole. In November 2014, less than a year after the last low point in polling, Republicans benefitted from the problems with the rollout of Obamacare to win majorities in both houses of Congress.
By a margin of 44 — 38 percent, respondents said that their representative deserves re-election. At the same time, they favored the Democrat candidate over the Republican by 50- 41 percent.
As the parties move into the midterm elections, the bottom line is that 59 percent of voters are angry at both parties. Seventy-one percent say that the government in Washington does not represent their views. Across the board, a plurality voters say that the parties need to cooperate with President Trump.
With voters angry at both parties as well as the president, the results of the midterms is not a foregone conclusion. With the president and the Democrats more popular than congressional Republicans, it seems likely that the big loser next year will be traditional conservative Republicans.