Poll: Speaker Wanna-Be Boehner’s Approval 11 Points Lower Than Speaker Pelosi’s

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Buoyed by polling and the media narrative that the GOP will win control of Congress in a wave election this November, House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, the next putative speaker, and other Republicans in Congress have been caught in the act of measuring the drapes in the Capitol.

The fact that 39 percent have never heard of Boehner — who is known in the Capitol for boozing, schmoozing and playing golf with lobbyists — offers Democrats the opportunity to introduce him as what he is: the ultimate Washington insider.

If Boehner and his party win, it appears they won’t get much of a honeymoon with voters, however. A Wall St. Journal/NBC poll last month found that congressional Republicans had just a 24 percent approval rating, the lowest rating they had ever received.

Now a new CNN Opinion Research poll [PDF] finds that Boehner has a lower approval rating than Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who has been the object of unrelenting demonization on the GOP-Fox channel and right-wing radio for years.

Boehner received a 22 percent favorable rating, with 23 percent unfavorable. Thirty-nine percent had never heard of him and 16 percent had no opinion.

Speaker Pelosi’s favorables were 33/51, with just 9 percent saying they’d never heard of her and 7 percent having no opinion.

The fact that nearly 40 percent of voters hadn’t heard of Boehner in the WSJ/NBC poll provides Democrats with the opportunity to introduce him as what he is: the ultimate Washington insider, best known for boozing, schmoozing and playing golf with lobbyists. If he’s known at all outside the Beltway, it’s for his all-weather tan. Even among other insiders, Boehner is not universally liked. Joe Scarborough, MSBNC’s token Republican host, has been a vocal critic, accusing Boehner of spending too much time in bars and avoiding legislative heavy lifting.

In the current Congress, Boehner has been the spokesman for the GOP’s “Party of No” strategy. For independent voters looking for someone to blame for Congress’ slow progress, Democrats should nominate Boehner, who has made regular appearances on cable news giving voice to Republican obstructionism that would work nicely in ads.

Before the GOP was the “Party of No” under Obama, it was the “Party of Yes, Sir!” under Bush. As majority leader under Speaker Dennis Hastert, Boehner was instrumental in rubberstamping the Bush agenda, in particular the profligate, borrowed-from-China spending and the explosion of the deficits that resulted — which is unpopular among the more principled elements of the GOP’s die-hard, tea party base.

Boehner is not particularly popular or well-known back home, either. A Public Policy Poll this month found that 31 percent of Ohioans had a unfavorable of view of the most powerful member of their state delegation, while 27 had a positive view — but most, 42 percent, had never heard of him. Interestingly, just 8 percent approved his tan, while 4 percent said he was not tanned enough.

But hands down, Boehner’s biggest liability is his coziness with lobbyists. He is most infamous for an incident in 1996, when he was the fourth ranking member in the GOP majority. In the closing minutes before a vote on a tobacco bill, Boehner was seen handing out checks from Big Tobacco lobbyists to his Republican colleagues on the House floor. Tellingly, it was two freshmen Republicans, rather than his own leadership, who confronted him and demanded that he stop.

Boehner later admitted he’d been asked to give out “about a half a dozen checks quickly before we got to the end of the month, and I complied.” He had a regret, he said, but it wasn’t the implication of bribery, but merely the unseemliness of passing out “bribes” on the House floor.


  • Nikolai
    September 12, 2010 - 10:49 am | Permalink

    Hopefully boozing, schmoozing Boehner will run with Kenyan anti colonial behavior Gingrich in 2012. It would assure a Democratic victory!

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  • OldMayfly
    September 13, 2010 - 10:24 am | Permalink

    Tips for “infamous for” (handing out tobacco checks, etc.) So often these day infamous people are described as “famous.”

  • Jim C
    September 13, 2010 - 2:28 pm | Permalink

    That POS is my ” gag ” representative . There is 0 chance of dislodging his sorry ass however . This district has been so Gerrymandered it would be practically impossible to vote him out . He has always had a penchant for getting hammered and heading for the nearest microphone to deliver some incoherent , blubbering , drunken rant , it doesn’t change a thing . Check out u tube or Google Boehner’s drunken rants , I’m sure you can easily find his greatest hits .

  • Joanie
    September 15, 2010 - 9:26 am | Permalink

    The Dems need to stop giving Boehner free publicity. Justin Coussoule is running agaisnt Boehner and I believe he has a good chance of winning. Justin is a great candidate: West Point grad, 5 yrs. as Army captain, small business owner and son of a roofer, smart, knowledgeable, articulate, better looking than Boehner (but who isn’t?), Coussoule is running an all volunteer, grass roots campaign that has raised much, much more money than any other Boehner opponent. He gets no money from the DNC, which means he doesn’t owe them either. It will be a tough fight agaisnt Boehner’s gigantic corporate funded war chest, but Justin learned at West Point that a good leader doens’t just go for the easy fight. Beat Boehner! Elect Coussoule!

  • JJOhio
    September 15, 2010 - 9:19 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Joanie,

    Anyone really wanting to get boehner out, help out with Justin’s campaign. I think he is doing the right thing, and Justin is a good candidate to support. Go Justin!

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