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Speaker Boehner's approval ratings plunge among Independents in latest Gallup Poll

by Christopher A. Guzman, published

While last week's Gallup Poll revealed that a mere 35% of independent voters approved of President Obama's performance, this week's poll demonstrates that newly-crowned Speaker of the House John Boehner isn't exempt from the ire of Independents either.  His approval rating has dropped the most with the independent voter demographic out of all three traditional political affiliations.

This week's Gallup notes that Boehner's favorable rating is down 10 points among Independents while his unfavorable rating is up by 17 points, shifting his net favorable score from +16 to -11. Although Boehner, along with his House Republican colleagues, was aided in seizing control with the help of Tea Party activists, favorable sentiment towards the new Speaker back in January was still just at 39% with the independent demographic.

With the ten point downward trend in the Speaker's approval rating, he now ranks lower than President Obama among Independents. Gallup's assessment is that Boehner's disapproval rating among Independents is "proportionately greater" than what would come from Republicans or Democrats.

Within Boehner's own party, Republicans now feel more negatively toward him than they did in January when 65% of registered voters within the party had a positive view of him. Even though his ratings have declined with Republicans as well, it still remains at 56%.

Meanwhile, the Gallup findings note that Democrats have always held a generally negative view of the Republican Speaker since taking the gavel in January. At that time, approval among Democrats was at 25% whereas it has now declined by five percentage points.

Overall, just as many voters currently view Boehner favorably as they do unfavorably. Gallup notes that Speaker Boehner's approval this year bears similar resemblance to California Rep. Nancy Pelosi's after she ascended to the Speaker of the House position in 2007, pointing out that her approval and disapproval rating eventually evened out after her first month in the position.

As much as Speaker Boehner's favorability ratings have declined, Gallup points out that they are actually higher than ratings of recent speakers. 

     "Of the four most recent people to hold this position, only Dennis Hastert was generally viewed more positively than negatively by Americans for most of his tenure, perhaps because of his lower profile, relatively higher ratings of Congress overall, and being able to work with a president of his own party for most of his time as speaker," the Gallup findings said.

The ability to work with a President of the opposite party seems to be a factor in earning higher approval ratings from the public and, I might add, be factor that would garner larger Independent support.

     "Pelosi and Newt Gingrich were more prominent figures who had to work with presidents of the other party for much or all of their speakership, and Americans generally viewed them more negatively than positively during that time," the polling report concluded.

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