The best day Republicans have had in the last few months was the day of the midterm election. Since then, they've floundered. They've fought to redefine rape, defund cancer screening for women, end Medicare as we know it, cut home heating help for poor seniors, cut food for poor children, and extend subsidies and giveaways for oil companies and the ultra rich. Needless to say, polls show these policies to be wildly unpopular. But have they taken a toll on Republicans' overall popularity?
Below are approval ratings for "Democrats in Congress" and "Republicans in Congress" from just before the midterms until now, only from surveys testing both parties. Some polls are of registered voters, others of all adults. The table below shows "net" approval, that is, approval minus disapproval, for each party. (The mid-October poll showing a huge gap between the two parties was conducted by Newsweek; it seems like an outlier, but I kept it in nonetheless.)
First, it's obvious both parties receive pretty abysmal ratings, with far more disapproving than approving. As Gallup and others have noted, ratings for Congress as a whole continue to be at their near-lowest point. This doesn't necessarily reflect views toward individual candidates, however. Pollsters know voters may hate "Congress" but like their own Member of Congress a bit better.
But more importantly, Republicans have not turned electoral success into popularity. Only a few polls since last October show Republicans with a higher net approval than Democrats. And in fact, the gap has widened since April.
Winning doesn't simply beget more winning. Having made real gains in the House, Senate, and in Governorships around the country, Republicans now need to provide the leadership voters are clamoring for. Instead, they've increased partisan rancor, and fought for a hated platform. In the states, voters are clearly unhappy with their new Republican Governors. And now they're losing ground in Congress, too.
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