The American public doesn’t think a change in leadership by the Republicans in Congress will do much to bring real reform to the way Congress operates, but most still say they want John Boehner replaced as House speaker, according to a new CNN/ORC Poll.
Overall, disapproval of the current Republican leadership in Congress has risen from 67% in April to 74% now. Even among Republicans, just 37% approve of the things the GOP leadership has done. Among all adults, 62% say that a new Republican leadership team in Congress would not bring real reform to Congress. Republicans are the only group optimistic that new leadership could turn things around in Congress, 59% say so, including 65% of Republicans who support the tea party movement.
Boehner announced that he plans to step down at the end of October, but the Republicans in Congress have failed to elect a successor to the Ohio congressman who has held the position since the Republicans took control of the House of Representatives in 2011.
Boehner is far from popular nationally or among those in his own party. Just 33% have a favorable view of him nationwide, and less than half of Republicans (45%) have a positive impression. Overall, 57% say they’d like to see Boehner replaced, slightly less than the 63% who said so in October 2013 just after a partial government shutdown that pushed congressional approval ratings near to all-time lows. Republicans are more likely than Democrats to say they’d like to see Boehner replaced – 66% among Republicans compared with 44% of Democrats.
Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, who was the Republican Party’s nominee for vice president in 2012, is the most positively viewed of three potential Boehner successors tested in the poll. On Tuesday night, Ryan laid out the conditions under which he would pursue the speakership.
Overall, 37% of Americans have a favorable view of Ryan, 31% unfavorable. Positive views of Ryan spike to 62% among Republicans, including a 72% favorability rating among Republicans who back the tea party.
Current House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, both of whom had considered running for the speakership, are less well-known than Ryan. But those who do know them offer tepid reviews. McCarthy, who ended his candidacy for speaker, clocks in with a 34% unfavorable rating and just 22% viewing him favorably, while Chaffetz lands at 18% unfavorable to 13% favorable. Republicans are divided on the two, 30% view McCarthy favorably and 28% unfavorably, and 19% have a favorable take on Chaffetz, 15% unfavorable.
But the public isn’t enamored of the Democrats in Washington either. Three-quarters of Americans say they feel poorly represented by Washington, up slightly since July, and most (52%) say they are angry with both the Democrats and the Republicans about how they’re handling the country’s problems.
The Republican Party’s favorability rating has gotten slightly worse since August, 37% have a favorable opinion while 56% are unfavorable. And while August saw the public divided in their impressions of the Democrats, those views now tilt negative (49% unfavorable vs. 44% favorable). Democrats themselves boost those numbers, as they are more positive toward the party (90% favorable) than Republicans are toward the GOP (77% favorable). Independents are about equally negative toward both (56% unfavorable to Democrats, 54% to Republicans).
Overall, more Americans say they have confidence in President Barack Obama to deal with the major issues facing the country today than say they have confidence in the Republicans (45% Obama to 36% GOP), but a sizable 15% lack confidence in either side. Still, 50% say they think the Republicans will ultimately have more influence over the direction the nation takes in the coming year, 41% think Obama will have greater influence.
The CNN/ORC Poll was conducted by telephone October 14-17 among a random national sample of 1,028 adults. Results based on the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, it is larger for subgroups.