Popularity Proves Elusive for Pelosi, Boehner

Nov 1, 2010 12:01am

If the Democrats lose the House tomorrow, Nancy Pelosi’s demotion will be largely unlamented: Nearly six in 10 registered voters have an unfavorable opinion of the speaker, and a striking number of them feel strongly about it. 

But, in terms of public opinion, that doesn’t exactly mean it’s party time for John Boehner.

As with Pelosi, although to much less extreme a margin, more people see Boehner unfavorably than favorably, the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll finds. Many as yet have no opinion of the Republican minority leader, a 10-term congressman from Ohio who’s positioned to take over from Pelosi as speaker if the GOP wins control.

For Pelosi, the tables have turned dramatically. More registered voters held a favorable rather than unfavorable view of her, by 46 percent to 34 percent, a month after the Democrats won control of the House in 2006. Today, with a favorable-unfavorable rating of 29-58 percent, she’s lost 17 points on the positive side, and gained 25 points on the negative.

Equally dramatic is the number of registered voters who have a “strongly” unfavorable opinion of Pelosi – 41 percent, up from 19 percent in December 2006.  Just 12 percent see her “strongly” favorably.

For comparison, Pelosi’s favorability rating is now 10 points below Sarah Palin’s in this same poll, produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates. Their unfavorable ratings are similar (Palin’s, as reported Friday, is 54 percent). 

Boehner, for his part, is less well-known than Pelosi, less disliked, but likewise more unpopular than popular. Twenty-one percent of registered voters see him favorably, 35 percent unfavorably, with 44 percent expressing no opinion.

A favorability rating is the most basic measure of a public figure’s popularity. It’s trouble to have unfavorable views exceed favorable ones, as is the case for Pelosi, Boehner and Palin alike.

Political and ideological differences on these leaders, if expected, are impressive nonetheless. Boehner is seen favorably by 36 percent of conservative Republicans, vs. 16 percent of liberal Democrats. And for Pelosi the gap turns epic: Sixty-four percent of liberal Democrats see her favorably. This plummets to 2 percent of conservative Republicans.

Click here for the question and results.

Click here for our full analysis of this poll.

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