The Takeaway: The Most Hated Man in Washington
Intriguing tidbits from the week in election surveys and public opinion polls.
Out of Favor: A new Quinnipiac University poll shows that Americans hold unfavorable views of all the major party leaders in Washington D.C. Forty-six percent of voters hold an unfavorable view of Vice President Mike Pence, compared with only 36 percent who view him favorably. Yet Pence’s net favorable rating of -10 (subtracting his favorable rating from his unfavorable rating) is the best of the six political leaders identified by Quinnipiac. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer is second with a net favorable rating of -11, followed by House Speaker Paul Ryan and Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi tied with a net -13. President Donald Trump is also deeply underwater with a net favorable rating of -22, but that’s nothing compared to Trump’s GOP frenemy Mitch McConnell. The Senate Republican leader scored a dismal -36 net favorable rating: just 15 percent of voters view him favorably while 51 percent view him unfavorably.
Americans and Their Guns: In the wake of the horrific mass shooting at a Florida high school last week, pollsters sought to measure public opinion on guns. As YouGov points out, they’ve surveyed Americans after nearly every recent mass shooting, and the numbers barely change: a slim majority, 53 percent, say gun laws should be made more strict. The partisan breakdown is 36 percent of Republicans, 46 percent of Independents, and 76 percent of Democrats. A Morning Consult poll pegged the number backing stricter guns laws at 64 percent, with 30 percent opposed.
Meanwhile, feelings about what action would be taken and what effect it might have also vary. Forty-three percent of respondents in the Morning Consult poll said chances were “slim” that Congress will enact stricter gun control legislation. A Rasmussen survey showed that 39 percent said stricter gun laws would help reduce violent crime, while an equal amount said it would have no effect. Fifteen percent said tighter controls would actually increase violent crime. Nearly six out of ten Americans do not trust the U.S. government’s ability to enforce current or future gun control laws.
One final note: the NRA’s standing with the public remains highly polarized. A Quinnipiac University poll asked whether the NRA supports “policies that are good (or bad) for the U.S.” Eighty percent of Republicans said NRA policies are “good” for the country, while 83 percent of Democrats said “bad.” Independents responded 38 percent “good,” and 52 percent “bad.”
Trump’s Bright Spot: The president’s overall approval rating has ticked up slightly in recent weeks, although it remains mired in the low 40’s. However, Trump has seen a solid increase in voter approval of the job he’s doing on the economy. A new Gallup survey released this week shows Trump’s approval rating on the economy at 51 percent, a six-point jump from September. Looking specifically at Independents, Trump’s approval rating on the economy stands at 47 percent, a bump of seven points from November. Gallup’s findings mirror recent results from other pollsters, and you can see what a significant shift this represents by looking at the chart of the RCP Average of Trump’s job approval on the economy.
The Howard Beale Election: Generally speaking, we already know Democrats are angry and appear impelled to take that anger to the voting booth this year. Another finding from Quinnipiac University fleshes out some specifics. Asked about their intentions in November, 59 percent of Democrats said they were “more motivated to vote than usual” -- compared to just 41 percent of Republicans and 46 percent of Independents.
Other surveys point to this “passion gap” between Democrats and Republicans. Democrats are simply more upset with the direction of the country. Seventy percent of Democrats said they were “very dissatisfied” – the strongest possible category – with the way things are currently going in America, compared to 49 percent of Independents and 10 percent of Republicans.
Among those on the other end of the spectrum who were “very satisfied” with the way things are going today? Twenty percent of Republicans, 8 percent of Independents, and less than one percent of Democrats.