Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Voters Do Not Like McCarthy or His Conference

CNN has a new poll out gauging how Americans feel about Congress and its members. On the whole, the numbers should be making Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) cringe.

To start, only 19% of respondents held a favorable view of McCarthy himself, while 38% don't like him. That means that, apparently, roughly 40% of Americans have no idea who he is. He's also doing less-than-great with voters in his own party; 35% of Republicans like him and 18% don't. For comparison's sake, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) is at 21% favorable, 22% unfavorable, and 57% Who? overall, while among Democrats he has 42% approval versus just 6% disapproval.

Meanwhile, when asked if House Republican leadership "has the right priorities overall," just 27% of respondents said "yes" whereas 73% said "no." That's pretty grim. Of course, some of those "no" respondents could be far-right zealots who are disappointed that it's taking so long to impeach Joe Biden/DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas/Hillary Clinton/the corpse of Franklin D. Roosevelt, but surely a big chunk of them are sane Republicans who don't much care for silly political theater.

We would make two observations about this polling result. The first is that Congress in general, and Congressional leaders in particular, pretty much always get abysmal polling numbers these days. However, that does not always translate to problems at the ballot box. Many voters feel the problem with the House is the other 434 elected representatives, and not the member who represents that voter's district. Said voters thus end up voting for the status quo, even while lamenting the status quo when talking to pollsters. On top of that, it's not enough for someone on the ballot to be unpopular. They have to be less popular than their opponent. And for many partisan voters, the worst member of their party is still better than the best member of the other party.

With that said, our second observation is that these numbers are really, really poor, especially since the House Republican Conference is theoretically in the honeymoon period. It will take very few votes and very few seats to flip control back to the Democrats in 2024, and the CNN poll suggests that McCarthy & Co.'s red-meat-for-the-base strategy is encouraging that possibility. The red team doesn't have to alienate all that many voters to capsize the ship, and the polling does not figure to improve once, say, the "investigation" into weaponizing the federal government really gets going. (Z)

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