Republicans have had a tough month on Capitol Hill, and their poll numbers show it.
Sixty-two percent of voters disapprove of GOP lawmakers in Congress, according to a new McClatchy-Marist Poll, more than double the 27 percent who said they approve.
That’s a 10-point swing from last month, when 57 percent of voters disapproved and 32 percent approved.
The biggest drop in support came from the GOP’s electoral base: Fifty-seven percent of Republican voters now approve of their congressional lawmakers, a 12-point drop from February.
The damage was most glaring with self-identified “soft Republicans.” In this group, a plurality of voters – 43 percent -- now disapprove of Congressional Republicans, compared to 40 percent who approve.
The drop in support came during the week that the American Health Care Act, the Republican Party’s health care bill, failed to pass in the House, a stunning setback for GOP lawmakers that laid bare their internal divisions between moderate and conservative factions. The poll was taken March 22 to 27. The bill was pulled March 24.
In the days since the bill’s collapse, President Donald Trump has castigated on Twitter members of the Freedom Caucus for blocking a deal, prompting a rebuttal from many of them that it was moderate Republicans who were more responsible for its inability to pass.
The dip in poll numbers was “quite illuminating,” said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion.
“Between Freedom Caucus and more moderate Republicans, there’s clearly a split,” he said. “So there’s a lot of cause for dissension, and it’s not a surprise that we see that drop.”
Next year’s midterm elections are more than 18 months away, but the poll suggests Republicans may have reason to start worrying now. Forty-seven percent of voters said if the election were held today, they would vote for the Democrat. Thirty-eight percent said they would vote for the Republican.
In interview with the poll’s participants, the frustration with the GOP’s divisions in Congress was clear.
Nicholas Kight supports Trump and considers himself a Republican.
But this 18-year-old student from southeast Missouri is, by his own admission, a little ambivalent about GOP lawmakers in Congress.
“The Republicans are split,” he said. “I think half of them didn’t like Trump and half of them were OK with Trump. They’re trying to work together, and some of them are saying, ‘I don’t like this.’
“To get anything accomplished, they gotta work together to do something,” he added.
Other Republicans were willing to give congressional Republicans a break
“I didn’t expect them to get everything done and wrapped up real nice anyway,” said Steve Helenski, a 25-year-old Republican from Pittsburgh. “I figure with the opposition there, it was never going to be streamlined through.”
Helenski added that he hoped the AHCA was just the opening act of a longer negotiation, in which Republicans eventually find it within themselves to compromise on a final product.
For all the GOP’s struggles, Democrats didn’t fare much better in the poll. Only 35 percent of voters approve of the way they are handling their job in Congress, compared to 54 percent who disapprove.
Alex Roarty: 202-383-6173, @Alex_Roarty
How the survey was conducted
This survey of 1,062 adults was conducted March 22-27 by The Marist Poll, sponsored and funded in partnership with McClatchy. People 18 and older residing in the contiguous United States were contacted on landline or mobile numbers and interviewed in English by telephone using live interviewers. Mobile telephone numbers were randomly selected based on a list of telephone exchanges from throughout the nation from Survey Sampling International. The exchanges were selected to ensure that each region was represented in proportion to its population. Mobile phones are treated as individual devices. After validation of age, personal ownership and non-business use of the mobile phone, interviews are typically conducted with the person answering the phone. To increase coverage, this mobile sample was supplemented by respondents reached through random dialing of landline phone numbers from ASDE Survey Sampler Inc. Within each landline household, a single respondent is selected through a random selection process to increase the representativeness of traditionally undercovered survey populations. The samples were then combined and balanced to reflect the 2013 American Community Survey one-year estimates for age, gender, income, race and region. Results are statistically significant within ±3.0 percentage points. There are 906 registered voters. The results for this subset are statistically significant within ±3.3 percentage points. The error margin was not adjusted for sample weights and increases for cross-tabulations.