CHICAGO (CGE) – Ohio Congressman and Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John A. Boehner used both hands to hold the hand-made over-sized gavel, a gift from one of his constituents, as he conducted activity of the people’s chamber on its first day of session this year, when after nearly 20 years of representing Ohio’s 8th District, some of them in the minority, the new GOP majority caucus that reclaimed the chamber last year elected him to lead the 435 Members for the next two years.
Boehner won last fall, as did many of those who made him the third most powerful elected official in Washington, by running against the president a nation elected in 2008 and by demonizing former Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
But not even two years later, Speaker Boehner, whose reputation on capital hill includes being a prolific fundraiser, friend of big business, an avid golfer and a chain smoker, seems to be losing not only the support of Independent voters but also some support from Republicans, who say the son of a bar owner is playing too much politics at a time when the nation needs leadership for its sake, not more partisan gamesmanship for his sake.
Public Policy Polling [PPP] released polling results Friday that shows Ohioans souring on Speaker Boehner. When PPP polled the state in May, 37 percent both approved and disapproved of Speaker Boehner’s performance in office. Now, PPP says, only 34 percent approve while his disapproval is up to 47 percent. Boehner’s shifting numbers, PPP concluded, were the result of a 23-point in the wrong direction by Independent voters. More surprising was that even Republicans are disapproving of him, a retreat PPP said represents a doubling of the figure who weren’t keen on him just three months ago. Some Tea Party loyalists have said they intend to primary Boehner because of his deal with the Preisdent last years.
PPP said Ohio voters narrowly prefer Democrats for Congress, 42-37, but noted that is down from 43-34 in May, mainly because Republicans are hardening, moving from 73-9 in favor of the GOP pick to 80-5, now equaling Democrats’ 81-6, the same as three months ago. Still 45 percent of independents remain undecided, down from 53 percent in May, and they have moved slightly towards the Democrats, from 30-17 in favor of the GOP to only 32-23 now.
In Ohio, where the recession has taken a big toll, more Ohioans still blame George W. Bush for the state of the economy than President Obama. Ohioans, by 51 percent, say Bush has been more responsible for the recession, while 42 percent lay the blame on Obama. Independents side 49-44 with Bush, and Democrats are just slightly more likely to blame Bush than Republicans blame Obama, PPP noted.
When polled on the debt ceiling deal, 45 percent of Ohio voters think it will be bad for the economy, and only 27 percent predict it will be a good thing. Democrats, by a narrow margin, think averting default was a positive, 37-30, and most of the negative sentiment comes from Republicans (18-51) and independents (19-65).
Ohioans are almost unanimously sure the deal will do nothing for the deficit, with 5 percent thinking it will solve it, but 82 percent do not. On this score, Republicans (2-88) and Independents (3-91) are most pessimistic.
Boehner and his allies should be wary of pushing a solution that is too heavy on cuts, PPP said, noting that 54 percent of Ohioans think the deficit should be dealt with through a combination of cuts and tax increases, while only 37 percent think cuts alone will suffice. Republicans favor cuts (68-25), but less so than Democrats prefer a balanced approach (13-77). Independents also side with Obama and the Democrats, 37-55.
Full PPP poll results.
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