Poll: Half of Country Not Happy With Ryan but Don’t Recognize Possible Successors

Respondents divided on whether Democrats will win back Congress

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., left, and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., have had to answer tough questions about the future of the House leadership situation and reports of McCarthy's role in pushing Ryan aside. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

A new poll found most Americans don’t like what Congress has been doing the past few years, even if they don’t know the major players in office.

Over 59 percent of respondents to this week’s Economist/YouGov poll said they disapproved of Congress’ performance, placing the blame on both parties.

But no one is quite sure of how likely things are to change. Less than a quarter of respondents hold strong opinions on whether Democrats or Republicans will control Congress next term.

But dissatisfaction over Washington wasn’t just tied to President Donald Trump. Over half of people polled did not think Paul D. Ryan does a good job as speaker. 

“Obviously, I serve at the pleasure of the members; those are the people who drafted me in this job in the first place,” the Wisconsin Republican said Tuesday when asked if he was confident of remaining speaker through the election. “But I think we all agree the best thing for us is to complete our agenda and not wedge into the completion of our agenda divisive leadership elections.”

Despite many not approving of Ryan, few have heard of his potential replacements. When asked for opinions about Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, more than 56 percent of respondents said they didn’t have an opinion or had never heard of them.

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Slightly more people blamed Republicans for congressional inaction than those who pointed the finger at Democrats or both parties. Forty-one percent of those polled thought Republicans were “to blame for Congress achieving less than usual,” compared to 35 percent who said both parties were equally at fault.

Opinions about the president were more decided. Nearly half of respondent said Trump won’t win re-election in 2020, although they believed he will run for re-election and not leave office before that. Over 54 percent said they didn’t want him to run again.

Americans also want candidates less like the president. Half of those polled said they want less Trump-like candidates, while 38 percent wanted candidates to be less like Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Watch: Ryan, McCarthy Say Reports of Leadership Coup ‘Not True’

Most respondents said Democrats would probably attempt to impeach Trump if they win back the House this fall. But over 64 percent didn’t think such an attempt would succeed.

The poll sampled 1,500 U.S. adults from May 20-22 through web-based interviews and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. The sample was weighted based on gender, age, race, education, 2012 and 2016 presidential votes and non-votes.

The Economist Group is the parent company of Roll Call. 

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