Favorability Gap Grows in House GOP Poll

Posted July 9, 2003 at 6:27pm

House Republicans unveiled new polling data Wednesday showing them with what they called their best “strategic brand advantage” over Democrats since the GOP took over the majority in 1995.

The new survey, which was presented to lawmakers by House Republican Conference Chairwoman Deborah Pryce (Ohio), showed the chamber’s GOP with a 51 percent-38 percent favorable-unfavorable rating.

House Democrats, meanwhile, are now at 46 percent-44 percent, according to the poll.

“We are at +13, a positive image. Democrats are at only +2, a neutral image,” Pryce wrote in a memo to the entire Conference. “This survey gives us a clear advantage, and this is the second survey in a row where we have held that advantage.”

In January, the House Republicans had a 53-36 favorable-unfavorable rating, and Democrats had a 49-39 rating.

Conducted by The Winston Group, the survey canvassed 1,000 registered voters July 1-2 with a margin of error of 3 percent.

In her memo, Pryce argued that the GOP’s growing gap over the Democrats in terms of favorable-unfavorable ratings is most attributable to the party’s handling of health care and prescription drug issues.

“Before the 2002 campaign, Democrats held a 17-25 point lead on health care issue handling,” Pryce wrote. “We have narrowed the margin down to between 12-15 points.”

The Ohio lawmaker was less pleased with Republicans’ handling of education issues.

“Some of our gains on this issue have dissipated, not because people don’t agree with us, but because we simply don’t talk about our ideas enough,” Pryce wrote, encouraging GOP lawmakers to “start planning your back-to-school efforts now.”

Her memo also contained some mild criticism of the way House Republicans have dealt with the child tax credit. Pryce argued that the party made a mistake in talking about how expanding the tax credit would affect the deficit, whereas the GOP’s message efforts on previous tax measures focused on creating jobs.

“The shift indicated Republicans were not framing the debate in the way we needed to,” Pryce wrote. “This is what I mean when we talk about message discipline.”

But Democrats pointed to different numbers, referring to a June Ipsos-Reid/Cook Political Report survey showing them leading in a generic Congressional ballot test, 47-40.

“With Democrats 7 points ahead on a national, nonpartisan generic ballot poll, it is understandable that Republican leaders would have to cook up their own poll to reassure their troops that a leadership so out of step with the American people isn’t leading them down the road to political failure,” said Stacey Farnen, spokeswoman for Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).