Poll: What do voters think about McCarthy/GOP after speaker race?
After a bitter four-day, 15-vote battle over who would take over the House Speakership, some experts said the infighting would hurt the Republican Party.
But a new statewide poll of 915 registered voters conducted by HarrisX for the Deseret News shows that the party and new House Speaker Kevin McCarthy made it through the week fairly unscathed. And voters seem to think Republican challengers may have had a point.
“The speaker battle doesn’t seem to have hurt the GOP with its base or overall voters, although voters believe the incoming speaker is weaker, at least temporarily, because of it,” said Dritan Nesho, CEO and principal researcher. in HarrisX. “Voters are challenging this fight with the dysfunction of Congress and the loss of confidence they have in the leadership and institutions that run Congress and the executive branch in general.”
Nesho added: “Actually, Republicans say they have gained confidence in the party and the party has gained strength because of the war. A plurality believe the GOP congressional positions were justified in their position and asked — as did a majority of 54% of those who paid attention to the war.”
This year’s Speaker’s race was historic – it had been 100 years since the speaker’s vote had gone to a second ballot, let alone a 15th. While the indecisiveness of the Republican convention played out on C-SPAN and cable news, only half of all voters said they were paying attention, according to the poll, which was conducted Jan. 9-10.
That may be one reason why 56% of voters said the speaker’s extended debate was just “politics as usual” — including 8 in 10 Republican voters and 3 in 5 independent voters — versus 44% who said it exposed something wrong. with the Republican Party. Asked separately whether the debate revealed something wrong with Congress, 2/3 of voters said it did.
Republicans may have largely escaped disapproval because of voters’ general distrust of Congress as an institution and because voters have come to expect some dysfunction. Questions in the survey about opinions about Congress elicited the most negative responses.
Voters showed a level of sympathy for the 20 Republican teams. A majority of voters, or 40%, said they were justified in their actions, while 32% said they were not justified and 28% said they did not know. Of those who said they paid attention to the debate, 57% said they were justified.
Opponents were eventually persuaded to vote for McCarthy — or vote in attendance, lowering the threshold for a winning vote — after he promised to make significant changes to House rules, opening up the legislative process to greater involvement by rank-and-file members and of files, and reducing the power of the speaker’s office. McCarthy’s concessions included allowing a member to call a vote for the speaker, reinstating amendments to appropriations bills and a requirement that bills be public for 72 hours before a vote is called. The rules were approved by the House on Monday.
While McCarthy may have weakened himself through his concessions, his willingness to compromise may have helped him among Republican voters.
Three in five Republicans said McCarthy was right to continue withholding votes until he won the presidency. And a majority of voters said that despite the many days it took to elect a president, their confidence in Kevin McCarthy either increased, at 21%, or had no effect, at 26%, while 39% of voters said made them believe him. less. Among Republicans, 34% said the multi-day negotiations made them trust McCarthy more, while 27% said it had no effect and 26% said it made them trust him less.
A Deseret News/HarrisX poll conducted in November showed that McCarthy did not have much support at the time among voters in his own party, likely due to the GOP’s disappointing midterm showing. Among Republicans, 35% said McCarthy should retain his role as party leader, while 33% of Republicans said the party should continue.
But McCarthy’s willingness to negotiate with party dissenters and his tenacity over 15 ballots may have ultimately helped boost his popularity among Republican voters. Given how narrow a majority Republicans have in the House of Representatives, it seemed unlikely that he would be able to overcome opposition. While many were calling for him to step down, McCarthy maintained that he was the one who could unite his warring conference.
There were some voters — 43% — who said the drawn-out process made them trust the Republican Party less, including 39% of independent voters. Among those who said they had lost confidence, 30% said it was because nothing productive was being done, while 28% said it showed divisions within the party and 20% said it showed the party could be influenced by a small group. legislators. Republicans and independents who expressed no confidence were more likely to say it was because the protracted negotiations showed divisions within the party, while Democrats were more likely to say it was because of a lack of productivity in Congress.