It isn’t just Republican members of the House who aren’t sure whether embattled Republican leader Kevin McCarthy of California should be speaker of the House of Representatives — Republican voters seem torn as well.
McCarthy continued to struggle Friday to get the votes needed in his quest to become speaker of the House of Representatives. A poll conducted by HarrisX for the Deseret News on Nov. 28-29, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points, offers some insights into what voters, and specifically Republican voters, think about McCarthy.
After Democrats performed better than expected in the 2022 midterm elections, some questioned whether GOP leadership did enough to recruit the right candidates and support those who were running. Even though Republicans ended up with a slight majority in the House — 222 seats compared to 213 for Democrats — they were expected to pick up more seats given Democratic control of the presidency and both chambers of Congress.
When we asked voters in late November whether McCarthy and other GOP leaders should maintain their role as a party leader, 23% of all voters and 35% of Republicans said McCarthy should maintain his role, while 43% of all voters and 33% of Republicans said the party should move on.
One-third of Republicans said they weren’t sure or didn’t know if McCarthy should maintain his leadership role, which could suggest that McCarthy still hasn’t made a name for himself among GOP voters even though he’s been in party leadership in the House for many years.
When we asked voters in the Deseret News/HarrisX poll who the leader of the Republican Party was, only 7% of all respondents and 11% of Republicans chose McCarthy, even though he is the only elected Republican slated to lead a majority in Congress. By contrast, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was chosen by 19% of all voters and 18% of Republicans as the party leader.
Some of McCarthy’s detractors have suggested that he is too willing to shift his position on issues and that he has not shown principled leadership.
Former Republican Congressman Justin Amash, who decided not to run for office again in 2020, said in a tweet that McCarthy “embodies everything people hate about politics. He’s unprincipled, dishonest, vindictive, and focused solely on gaining and maintaining power.”
And Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs, one of McCarthy’s earliest and loudest critics, accused McCarthy of “cutting backdoor deals with Democrats.”