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Poll Shows Few Americans Believe House Republicans Will Enact Positive Change

Kevin McCarthy, the next presumptive Speaker of the House, has a negative approval rating, the poll finds.

Flanked by members of his incoming leadership team, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy talks to reporters in the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center on November 15, 2022, in Washington, D.C.

Nationwide polling published this week shows that the majority of Americans don’t believe GOP leadership in the House of Representatives will change things for the better.

The results from the Monmouth University poll, conducted from December 8-12, also demonstrate that most Americans don’t believe the Republican Party will enact policies that will benefit them.

When asked generally if House Republicans would change things, just 18 percent of the poll’s respondents said they would change things for the better, while 21 percent said they would do so for the worse. Fifty-one percent said Republicans wouldn’t change things at all.

Respondents also said they didn’t think the GOP would do much to help the middle class. Just 36 percent of respondents said Republicans are very or somewhat likely to help the middle class, while 60 percent said they are either not too likely or not at all likely to do so.

When asked if Republicans pay attention to economic issues that affect “people like you,” 22 percent of respondents said that the party does, while 71 percent said that they don’t pay enough attention.

The poll also found that Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-California), the next presumptive Speaker of the House, has a negative approval rating, with only 12 percent of Americans saying they approve and 34 percent saying they disapprove. Most Americans (54 percent) said they don’t know enough about McCarthy to form an opinion on him.

McCarthy has technically served as House Republican leader since 2014. However, from that year until 2019, he was the second-highest-ranking Republican official, as John Boehner and Paul Ryan served as speakers of the House during those years. From 2019 on, McCarthy has served as House Minority Leader.

The fact that most Americans don’t have an opinion on McCarthy could work in his favor, but he also faces some challenges, said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University poll.

“McCarthy starts off as a blank slate for most of the public. It will be interesting to see if he can build the same kind of party loyalty as [Nancy] Pelosi — that is if he actually gets the chance to succeed her,” Murray said.

McCarthy faced opposition from dozens of members of his own party in the House when the GOP caucus held leadership elections last month, with dozens of representatives-elect voting against him remaining in the position.

When the House convenes next month to name a new speaker, McCarthy will need at least 218 votes from within the chamber. Republicans will have a very narrow majority when they take power, meaning that if all lawmakers vote along party lines and just five of the 31 Republicans who voted against McCarthy remain opposed to him becoming Speaker, he won’t have enough votes to garner a majority in the House and the process could require multiple votes before someone is picked.

Although it’s unlikely, the process could take several days, weeks, or even months to resolve. Only 14 of the 127 votes on Speaker of the House in U.S. history have ever gone past the first ballot. (The last time this happened was in 1923.) The longest vote, in 1855, took 133 ballots and two months before a speaker was chosen.