Republicans who call themselves Tea Party supporters approve of how Boehner is handling the debt situation by a 65% to 30% margin. Republicans who are not Tea Party supporters break essentially even in their views of how Boehner is handling the debt situation, by a 38% approve to 40% disapprove margin.
Readers' eagle eyes may have noticed that there are many more "don't knows" among those who are not Tea Party supporters than among those who are -- 22% to 5%, to be precise. Why? That's a good question. These data suggest that Republicans who don't support the Tea Party are less engaged in the whole debt ceiling debate going on right now.
Boehner's lack of favor with the non-Tea Party wing of the GOP brings down his overall approval numbers on his handling of the debt situation to 50% (when all Republicans are amalgamated together). His disapproval among all Republicans is 35%. That can be contrasted with a ratio of 75% approval to 15% disapproval for President Barack Obama among Democrats. Of course, Boehner’s ratings can also be compared with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s anemic 36% positive to 36% negative ratio among Democrats.
Some news accounts focus on Boehner's supposed problem with the Tea Party faction of the GOP. These data suggest that as far as the rank and file are concerned, it is the moderate wing of the GOP that is more his problem.
The most important finding in all of the data from Wednesday night is probably that all three politicians -- Obama, Boehner, and Reid -- receive more disapproval than approval from the average American when asked to assess how they are handing the debt ceiling situation.
Obama Approval and Economic Confidence
At this point, I think Americans will respond negatively to almost any entity we put in front of them in a survey context. Certainly we are seeing that in terms of our Gallup Daily tracking numbers for Barack Obama -- whose 40% job approval rating for July 26-28 is now the lowest of his administration so far.
And, extending the analysis written by my colleague Dennis Jacobe earlier this week, we find that the trajectory of economic confidence during the debt crisis continues to be negative, negative, negative. The current numbers are as bad as we have had them since early 2009.
We now have a situation in which three-quarters of Americans say that the U.S. economy is getting worse, not better.
Two Well-Confirmed Conclusions
Two conclusions about public opinion in the current situation are evident from a review of all available data:
1. Despite taking hits himself, Obama does better than the generic “Republicans in Congress” both in terms of being perceived to be better able to make decisions about the debt situation, and also in terms of who will be more to blame if the debt ceiling is not raised.
2. The majority of Americans want a compromise on the debt situation, one which includes both spending cuts and revenue increases. (Of course, the politicians involved say that they too want a compromise, as long as the compromise favors their position.)
Confidence in Congress
Keep in mind that Americans have less confidence in Congress than in any other institution Gallup tests. Americans have more confidence in the military than in any other institution Gallup tests. Why? We don’t have precise data on that, but it’s likely because the military is seen as efficient and able to get things done effectively. Congress isn't.