Dem 51
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GOP 49
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What the Polls Say about the Mess in the House

It's bad news. As the House struggles and fails to perform its most basic function—electing a speaker—how are the American people responding? Are they incensed that Republicans can't govern? Nah. It's all inside baseball to them and they are not paying any attention to it. Here we are, writing about the speaker's race day after day and nobody cares. Well, maybe our readers care, but our readers do not represent the country very well. A recent Yahoo/You Gov poll shows that only 17% of U.S. adults are even following what is going on in the House. If you know the other 83%, please ask them to check out our site. Thanks.

On the other hand, despite not following the daily ins-and-outs of who is the speaker candidate du jour, a CNN poll shows that 74% of U.S. adults disapprove of the Republicans in Congress. In other words, people don't follow the details, but they have picked up the general idea that congressional Republicans are not doing their job well. Or at all.

And people sort of realize that the problem is the Republicans, not Congress. A Quinnipiac University poll asked whether the parties are looking out for themselves or for the country. For both parties, Americans think they are putting themselves first, but for the Democrats it is by a 34-point margin and for the Republicans it is by a 50-point margin. For anyone watching the speaker's race in detail, it is hard to say what is going on there helps the country, but only a handful of people are paying attention to the speaker's race.

Along the same lines, Quinnipiac asked if either chamber could respond to a crisis. Here the Democratic-run Senate did much better than the nominally Republican-run House, with 54% confident that the Senate could respond to a crisis while only 35% were sure the House could respond to a crisis.

These results are unfortunate for the Republicans, because before the dog and pony show in the House began, Republicans were moving up in the polls in many ways. In particular, for the first time in history, Republicans were thought to be better on the economy than the Democrats. Republicans also were faring better on questions like which party would make the country more prosperous (53% to 39%) and which is better at dealing with international terrorism (57% to 35%).

Of course, the longer the speaker battle goes on, the more the news seeps out and begins to be more widely known. If it goes on so long that it results in a government shutdown, then even the most news-phobic people will become at least somewhat aware of what is going on and why. (V)

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