Tonight, Least Liked Man in America to Address Congress

January 30, 2018

From:              Charlie Kelly, Executive Director, House Majority PAC

To:                   Interested Parties

Date:               January 30, 2018

Subject:          The Least Liked Man in America

Tonight, millions of Americans will tune in as the least liked man in the country stands before Congress and addresses the nation. The deeply unpopular political leader will proclaim “I have the high privilege and distinct honor of presenting to you the President of the United States” and then will promptly take a seat behind Donald Trump.  

Of course, we’re talking about House Speaker Paul Ryan, who is, in fact, the single most unpopular political leader in America, even more so than the deeply unpopular Donald Trump, and toxic for the GOP brand.

Tonight, as Ryan’s smug smile flashes across the camera in cutaways during Trump’s speech, and as vulnerable Republican House Members are shown in standing ovation at their final State of the Union, here are some numbers to keep in mind.

From October to December, 2017, Patriot Majority USA commissioned and publicly released three sets of monthly battleground polls, surveying more than 30 competitive districts, and the outlook is grim for Paul Ryan and Congressional Republicans. From top tier districts in states like CA, FL, MN, NJ, NY, and TX, Republican incumbents have been losing to Democrats and in many cases by double-digits. Even worse for the GOP is that polling showed both Donald Trump, and particularly, Paul Ryan’s job performance numbers underwater by significant margins making them deeply unpopular foils for Democrats.  Almost uniformly, Ryan’s job performance numbers have consistently been worse than Donald Trump’s. In fact, in a district like VA-10, Ryan’s performance numbers were a net-negative 50, nearly 30 points worse than Donald Trump. Across constituencies, diverse demographics, and different regions of the country, Paul Ryan has struggled significantly. Even in working class districts in the Midwest and Upper Northeast where Trump held decent standing in districts with large numbers of non-college whites, averaging 44% approval vs. 51% disapproval, Ryan was largely toxic (-35 points). Ryan even received poor job performance numbers in his own district (42% approve vs. 50% disapprove) – stuck in the mid-40s in a head-to-head against an upstart Democratic challenger, Randy Bryce. 

Finally, in suburban Congressional districts where Clinton won last cycle, Trump averaged at least a net-negative 16, and in some cases is far worse. This is definitely an ominous sign for the GOP heading into the fall, with both Trump and Ryan looking to be effective villains for Democrats in this year’s election.

While the GOP brand has suffered significant erosion and party leaders are viewed poorly in districts across the country, the head-to-head results for Democrats and the positive nature of these numbers were still surprising so far out from Election Day. In district after district, generic and named Democratic challengers beat Republican incumbents. In fact, of the more than 30 challenger districts surveyed, Democrats were winning in 23 and tied or trailing by one percent in another six districts. In the remaining challenger districts, Republicans held narrow leads in the mid-40s with job performance numbers largely underwater. But, in perennial targets where Democrats have struggled in recent elections – CA-25 (Knight), FL-26 (Curbelo), MN-03 (Paulsen), VA-10 (Comstock) – Democrats were winning outside of the margin and in some cases by double digits. And, in new battlegrounds like CA-48 (Rohrabacher), IL-06 (Roskam), NJ-11 (Frelinghuysen when polled, now open), and TX-07 (Culberson), Democrats were often well ahead. 

The significant challenges for Republicans are not simply historical trends taking shape ahead of the midterm election. In fact, the large rejection of Ryan, Trump, and GOP incumbents comes from Americans’ opposition and resistance to GOP policy. From health care to taxes, the survey data has consistently shown that Americans in communities across the country believe that the GOP is pushing an agenda that is focused on giving benefits to the wealthy at the expense of the middle class. And through the entire health care and tax debate, it is clear that no amount of money the GOP has spent or plans to spend can move individuals from this belief. In fact, the toxicity of the GOP brand is exacerbated by the focus of their agenda and their insistence on rewarding the ultra-rich.

Below is an accounting of the data released by Patriot Majority USA.