House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s standing with the American people has eroded significantly, although her disapproval figures still do not match the lows attained by Republican Newt Gingrich when he held the speaker's post.
A new ABC News/Washington Post poll shows that just 38 percent of Americans approve of Speaker Pelosi’s job performance, down 15 percentage points from when the pollsters last asked about her in April 2007. Meanwhile, 45 percent of those surveyed said they disapprove of Pelosi’s performance, up 10 percentage points.
Pelosi, the nation’s second most powerful Democrat, has approval ratings that stand in sharp contrast to President Obama’s numbers. The ABC News/Post poll found 65 percent approve of his job performance, while 31 percent disapproved.
Bruised by battle with the CIA?
Last month, Pelosi was embroiled in a controversy over what the Central Intelligence Agency told congressional leaders in 2002 about the Bush administration’s use of enhanced interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects. She said the CIA had intentionally misled her; the CIA said she had been informed of the harsh treatment of detainees. Republican politicians and pundits hammered her about the statement.
Some of the slippage in the speaker’s ratings may be tied to her wrangling with the CIA. But partisanship may also play a role. The ABC/Post survey notes that self-identified moderates have sharply differing opinions of Pelosi. Moderate Democrats are strongly in her corner – 63 percent approve, 22 percent disapprove. Moderate Republicans are hostile to the speaker – 17 percent approve, 63 percent disapprove.
Not as bad as Newt
While her standing has slipped with the general public, Pelosi’s disapproval numbers still do not equal those posted by former Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich. In a November 1998 ABC News/Washington Post poll, 38 percent of the public approved of his performance and 58 percent disapproved.
Congressional Republicans can take little comfort from Pelosi’s polling woes. The ABC/Post survey found congressional Republicans with their lowest approval ratings in a decade. When asked who they trusted more on healthcare, 53 percent of respondents said Mr. Obama, compared with 27 percent who said Republicans in Congress. On the economy, the split was 55 percent for the president, 31 percent for congressional Republicans. On dealing with the terrorist threat, the breakdown was 55 percent for Obama, 34 percent for congressional Republicans.