A new Gallup/USA Today poll echoes a series of recent surveys documenting that nobody is happy with the way Washington has handled the debt-ceiling crisis, but that the public finds President Obama the least offensive of the trio that includes House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
In a survey of 1,007 adults conducted July 27, 41 percent of respondents approved of Obama’s handling of the crisis. Boehner is 10 points behind with a 31 percent approval rating, and opinions of Reid bottom out with only 23 percent approval. Gallup notes that more Americans had opinions about Obama’s actions, and that he loses some of his advantage when “no opinion” votes are factored out: He gets 44 percent approval and 45 percent disapproval, compared with 39 percent approval and 61 percent disapproval for Boehner, and 31 percent approval and 69 percent disapproval for Reid.
A small but notable finding left out of Gallup’s write-up is that Obama wins independent voters by a small margin: They give him a 35 percent approval rate, compared with only 30 percent support for Boehner. Again, Reid fares the worst, with only 21 percent support.
Boehner’s struggles to marshal the support of his own party were echoed in the survey. Republicans give him only 50 percent approval, compared with Obama, who gets 75 percent approval from Democrats despite the recent perception that he’s been willing to dig into entitlements to find spending cuts. Interestingly, Reid does poorly even in his own party: Only 36 percent of Democrats approve of his handling of the situation.
Interestingly, the survey respondents who identify with the tea party are more supportive of the speaker than their recalcitrant lawmakers might suggest. Boehner has 61 percent approval and 33 percent approval from tea party supporters, even higher than his 50 percent approval among all Republicans. And 65 percent of Republicans who specifically identify with the tea party support Boehner. That support drops among Republicans who do not support the tea party: They give him an approval rating of 38 percent, with a disapproval rating of 40 percent. That reflects Boehner's struggles in recent days with the moderate members of his party as he has veered to the right in an attempt to win over more-conservative lawmakers.
The poll was taken on Wednesday, before Thursday's late-night wrangling and subsequent canceled vote muddied the situation. Those events, particularly the House leadership's public arm-twisting of several tea party-affiliated lawmakers, could alter public opinion.
The survey results were obtained through landline and cellular telephone interviews on July 27 with a random sample of 1,007 adults aged 18 and older living in the continental U.S. One can say with 95 percent confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.