House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy boasts a 48% job approval rating with independents, putting the California Republican in line to be elected speaker 8 percentage points ahead of President Joe Biden with this crucial voting bloc.
In national Gallup polling from Dec. 1-16, McCarthy enjoyed an overall job approval rating of 46%, higher than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (40%), Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (44%), and Biden (43%). But the minority leader’s advantage among independent voters is greater still. He performed 10 points better with this key cohort than Pelosi’s 38% and 8 points better than Biden and Schumer, who each garnered 40%.
That could prove critical as Republicans ask voters to return them to power in Congress in 2022. Independents typically decide midterm elections, and McCarthy is on track to be elected House speaker if Republicans win the majority. The minority leader’s higher job approval ratings than the president or Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill could signal independents are at least somewhat comfortable with that outcome.
Republicans are just a handful of districts shy of winning a 218-seat majority in the House, and recent generic ballot surveys suggest voters are poised to put them in charge.
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Meanwhile, Gallup polling during the first half of December found that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts had the highest job approval ratings of any public official tested, with 60%, followed by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell (53%) and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci (52%). They were the only three to enjoy positive overall job approval ratings.
Among Biden administration officials tested, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Attorney General Merrick Garland, who both received job approval ratings of 49%, were the most popular. Vice President Kamala Harris garnered a job approval rating of 44%. Among independents, Harris’s job approval rating was just 42% — 6 points less than McCarthy, although 2 points better than Biden.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was the lowest-rated congressional leader in Gallup polling in December. The Kentucky Republican’s job approval rating was an abysmal 34% overall and an equally disappointing 35% among independents. Those numbers were driven by McConnell’s 52% disapproval among Republican voters, likely fallout from his feud with former President Donald Trump.
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Republicans need to win just one seat in 2022 to reclaim the Senate majority after two years in the minority.