US President Donald Trump is seated for a a lunch with Republican Party House and Senate leadership, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (L) and House Speaker Paul Ryan, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC on March 1, 2017.
CNN Poll: Opinion of GOP falls to all-time low
00:55 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

79% of Republicans say Trump is taking the party in the right direction

Democrats hold 10-point advantage in enthusiasm about voting in 2018

59% of Americans say they are angry at both parties


There are fresh signs the Republican Party’s brand is in trouble.

Fewer than three in 10 Americans – 29% – hold a favorable view of the Republican Party according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS. That is down 13 percentage points from March and is the lowest mark for the GOP since CNN began asking the question in 1992.

The previous low point for the GOP was 30% – hit twice – in October 2013 following the federal government shutdown over President Barack Obama’s health care law, and December 1998, in the wake of the House of Representatives approving two articles of impeachment against then President Bill Clinton.

Republicans are signaling they prefer President Donald Trump’s vision for the party, with 79% saying he is taking it in the right direction. A majority of GOP voters – 53% – believe Republican leaders in Congress are taking the party in the wrong direction.

That finding comes as approval ratings and favorability ratings for Republican leaders in Congress have dropped. Overall approval of the party’s leadership is down to 20%, a new low in CNN polling back to 2008. That includes just 39% of Republicans who approve of the job GOP leaders are doing. House Speaker Paul Ryan’s favorability has dipped to 32%, a six-point drop since April, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stands at 20% favorability, a seven-point dip since spring.

Both parties will have to grapple with an increasingly unhappy public as nearly six in 10 Americans (59%) say they are angry at both parties, while just 23% say they are not angry at either party. Independents are the most upset, with 68% saying they’re angry at both parties – up 10 points since March. Anger among Republicans has also spiked, with 63% now angry at both parties compared to 38% who said the same in the spring. Among Democrats, anger at both sides is up seven points, to 49%.

Americans want more cooperation in Washington

The poll suggests all that anger may stem from the lack of cooperation in Washington.

Trump gets high marks from Republicans for working with members of his own party in Congress, with 75% saying he is cooperating about the right amount and just 14% believing he’s not doing enough. Republicans don’t see that outreach being returned, however, with 66% saying the party’s members of Congress are not doing enough to cooperate with the President.

Half of Americans say Democrats aren’t doing enough to cooperate with the Trump, although there is a sharp partisan split in the numbers. More than eight in 10 Republicans say Democrats aren’t cooperating enough, while 60% of Democrats say party representatives are cooperating the right amount.

That comes on the heels of Democratic leaders striking a bipartisan deal with the President to fund the government, increase the debt limit and provide money for hurricane relief. Going forward, 74% of Democrats say the party should mainly work with Republicans to try to get some of the party’s ideas into law while 23% say the party should mostly work to stop the GOP agenda.

Democrats hold enthusiasm edge as 2018 nears

Turning toward next year’s midterm elections, Democrats appear to have an enthusiasm advantage as the party tries to win back majority control of the House and Senate. Democrats need to gain 24 seats to retake the House and three in the Senate, though party is facing limited pick-up opportunities there this cycle.

Nearly a quarter of Democrats – 24 % – say they are extremely enthusiastic about voting next year, with another 20% saying they are very enthusiastic. Just 14% of Republicans say they are extremely enthusiastic, with another 20% saying they are very enthusiastic about voting.

Democrats also lead in the generic congressional ballot among all Americans by nine percentage points, 50% to 41%, though the midterm electorate traditionally leans more Republican.

Feelings about the Democratic Party are slightly rosier than those about the GOP, with 41% holding a favorable view of the party compared to 51% of Americans who say they hold a negative view.

Where does the Democratic Party go from here?

While Republicans see Donald Trump as the clear leader of their party, there doesn’t appear to be universal agreement among Democrats about the leader of their party.

One in five Democrats didn’t offer a name when asked which leader best reflected the core values of the party. The top name on the list is former President Barack Obama, who was the choice of 18% of Democrats. He is followed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders at 14%, 2016 nominee Hillary Clinton at 10% and former Vice President Joe Biden at 7%.

Several potential 2020 hopefuls were also in the mix, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 6% and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, Minnesota Sen. Al Franken and California Sen. Kamala Harris all at 3%. Former President Bill Clinton was the choice of 2% of respondents.

As a historical comparison, former GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin was the top choice at 18% when The Washington Post asked the question of Republicans in November 2009. She was followed by the party’s 2008 presidential nominee, John McCain, at 13%, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee at 7%, eventual 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney at 6% and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 4%. Trump’s name did not appear in the results, though current Vice President Mike Pence did receive 1% support along with a dozen other GOP leaders.

The CNN Poll was conducted by SSRS by telephone September 17 to 20 among a random national sample of 1,053 adults. The margin of sampling error for results among the full sample is plus or minus 3.7 percentage points; it is larger for subgroups.