If you’ve perceived Paul Ryan taking a beating in the realm of public opinion from conservatives lately – you were correct.
Whether it was after he passed a $1.1 trillion, 2000+ page omnibus bill at the end of 2015, his constant refusal to endorse then-candidate Donald Trump (even after he won the nomination), or his brilliant idea of replacing Obamacare with Obamacare “lite,” he’s probably done something that ticked you off.
And you’re not the only one. He’s now more unpopular than his predecessor – and a handful of other universally disliked figures. According to HotAir, his [Ryan’s] approval rating isn’t wildly different from Boehner’s or Pelosi’s. His disapproval rating, though? Hoo boy. Contributing factor one: He was, of course, the quarterback for the GOP’s much-hated health-care bill, which was polling at a breezy 17 percent approval right before it went down in flames. That was a double whammy for Ryan, evidence that not only couldn’t he concoct a broadly popular plan, he couldn’t even succeed where Democrats had succeeded by getting it through the House. After that, the question isn’t so much why 54 percent disapprove of him, it’s why 29 percent approve.
There are a number of contributing factors that HotAir’s Allahpundit theorizes are responsible for his unpopularity. Among them are:
> He was, of course, the quarterback for the GOP’s much-hated health-care bill, which was polling at a breezy 17 percent approval right before it went down in flames.
> Unlike the other three former Speakers listed, Ryan’s a former VP nominee. The bigger a politician’s national profile, the stronger partisan feelings about him are likely to run.
> Unlike Newt, Ryan is dealing with a divided party, one whose populist-nationalist wing regards him as little better than a Democrat. That’s the secret ingredient to his low approval rating. Where Gingrich and even Boehner could count on solid support from within their own parties, Ryan’s position is more complicated. Gingrich polled at 62/23 among Republicans in 1995, a net approval of +39. Boehner polled at 54/19 in 2011 for a comparable +35. Ryan polls at … 51/31, a +20 net. In fairness, given the party’s establishment/populist and globalist/nationalist splits, it may be that any Republican Speaker these days would be doomed to start lower than Gingrich or Boehner.
> Cliche though it may be, we live in an age of high political polarization. Trump polls at just seven percent with Democratic voters; to put that in perspective, the next-lowest number among voters from the minority party for any president in April of his first year dating back to Reagan is 24 percent, which Republicans gave to Bill Clinton in 1993.
In regards to Allahpundit’s last point, it is true that Ryan’s disapproval increased since Trump took office, but it was still high before then. The Huffington Post’s tracker showed him polling 39 percent unfavorable around the time of the inauguration, to 50.6 percent viewing him unfavorably today. While the Huffpo’s numbers give Ryan more favorable results than Pew, even prior to Trump taking office, Ryan was still more unpopular than Boehner and Pelosi.
The Trump presidency may have led to liberals disliking the man simply because of the (R) next to his name, but it’s his betrayal of conservative principles that’s responsible for the bulk of his disapproval. By October of last year, Ryan had a net unfavorable rating among Republicans by five percentage points (40 percent viewing him favorably, 45 percent viewing him unfavorably).
Time for a new speaker? When even Pelosi would be a more popular replacement, it definitely makes you think.
[Note: This post was authored by Matt Palumbo. Follow him on Twitter @MattPalumbo12]