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Mitch McConnell's Favorables Down Among Republicans

by Justin McCarthy

Story Highlights

  • McConnell's favorables dip to 40% among Republicans/GOP leaners
  • 33% in GOP have unfavorable view of the majority leader
  • Nearly half (47%) of Americans have an unfavorable view of McConnell

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's unsuccessful attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act have provoked the ire of many in the GOP, Republicans' views of McConnell have become less positive. Currently, Republicans and independents who lean Republican are only slightly more likely to have a favorable (40%) than unfavorable view (33%) of McConnell. His favorable rating is down nine percentage points from April's 49%.

Republican Views of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

The latest figures, from an Aug. 2-6 Gallup poll, were collected just before President Donald Trump's attacks on the majority leader on Twitter, expressing frustration with McConnell over his inability to repeal and replace the ACA after long pledging to do so. Trump's tweets came on the heels of McConnell's comments that the president's lack of political experience left him with "excessive expectations."

Trump may have an edge over McConnell in terms of how the GOP views this public spat; Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are twice as likely to view Trump favorably (80%) as McConnell. The majority leader's current favorable rating among his own party matches the average of Gallup polling favorable ratings about McConnell since 2010 when he was minority leader in a Democratic-controlled Senate. McConnell has generally been viewed more positively than negatively by the GOP, though he was viewed more negatively in 2015 amid Republicans' frustration with the party's inability to move legislation under a Democratic president.

Hindering McConnell's ability to improve his image is the sizable percentage of Republicans who are unfamiliar with the majority leader. Currently, more than one in four Republicans and GOP-leaning independents (27%) have no opinion or have never heard of McConnell.

Nearly Half of Americans Have a Negative View of McConnell

Among national adults, McConnell's current 23% favorable rating is similar to his average of 24% from Gallup's trend since 2010. Nearly half of Americans have a negative view of the majority leader. Three in 10 Americans report that they have no opinion or have never heard of him -- only slightly lower than in 2010 when Gallup first asked about McConnell.

That McConnell's unfavorable rating is twice as high as his favorable rating is not a first. This was also the case in 2015 when his favorable rating hit a low of 18% as fellow Republicans turned against him.

His highest favorable rating was 31% in 2010, the first time Gallup asked about him -- about three years after he became the Senate Republican leader when the party still was in the minority.

American Views of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

Bottom Line

Though low, McConnell's favorable ratings are not unique -- Americans have also viewed other recent congressional leaders, such as Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, more negatively than positively. However, some leaders, such as House Speaker Paul Ryan, have generally been viewed more positively than negatively over the years.

During this tenuous period in his relationship with Trump, McConnell may find the president's public criticisms a challenge to his standing among his own party. Trump's favorability among the GOP is double McConnell's; while less than half of Republicans have a favorable view of the majority leader, eight in 10 view the president positively. Presidents generally have the upper hand over members of Congress when it comes to favorability, though, so Trump's higher favorability is not unique.

McConnell is in a tough position as he sees no navigable path to repealing and replacing the ACA and continues to receive public criticism from the party's more popular president regarding his inability to move any such legislation forward.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Aug. 2-6, 2017, with a random sample of 1,017 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 70% cellphone respondents and 30% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

View survey methodology, complete question responses and trends.

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.