Many Voters Haven’t Formed Views of Mike Johnson, the New House Speaker
Survey conducted Oct. 27-29, 2023, among a representative sample of 1,979 registered voters, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points. Figures may not add up to 100% due to rounding.
53% of voters have no clear opinion of House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) at the dawn of his speakership, roughly matching the share who say the same of House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.).
Low voter awareness gives Johnson and his GOP supporters, as well as his Democratic detractors, a relatively blank slate to define him.
But for now his complicated ascent has done nothing to shake the public’s perception of congressional Republicans. Roughly half of voters (49%) hold unfavorable views of Republicans in Congress, compared with 40% who view them favorably — unchanged from surveys conducted before Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was ousted on Oct. 3.
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Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) was just elected speaker of the House, but as Democrats work to wield his controversial evangelical conservative beliefs against the Republican Party, many voters don’t even know who he is.
According to our tracking survey conducted after his election, just 47% of voters have formed views about Johnson at the dawn of his speakership. This is similar to the share who have formed views about House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) but far less than the 72% who had done so about his predecessor, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), before he was elected to the post at the beginning of this Congress in early January.
For now, voters who have formed opinions about Johnson are divided, with 22% expressing favorable views and 25% expressing unfavorable views. Democratic voters are about as likely to view him unfavorably as Republicans are to view him favorably (33% to 32%), while independent voters with views skew toward the negative.
Specific demographics at scale: Surveying thousands of consumers around the world every day powers our ability to examine and analyze perceptions and habits of more specific demographics at scale, like those featured here.
Why it matters: Leaders need a better understanding of their audiences when making key decisions. Our comprehensive approach to understanding audience profiles complements the “who” of demographics and the “what” of behavioral data with critical insights and analysis on the “why.”
Johnson, a dark horse who rose quickly from his spot as vice chair of the House Republican Conference, was elevated to the post after a messy, 22-day intraparty fight following McCarthy’s historic ouster, which did nothing to shake the reputation of congressional Republicans among the overall electorate.
Congressional Republicans’ Reputation Is Unscathed by the House Speaker Fight
Roughly half of voters (49%) hold unfavorable views of Republicans in Congress, compared with 40% who view them favorably — unchanged from surveys conducted before they fired McCarthy. Over that period, the share of voters with unfavorable views of Democrats in Congress declined slightly despite repeated Republican accusations that they were behind the GOP’s chaos.
The bottom line
Low voter awareness gives Johnson and his GOP supporters, as well as his Democratic detractors, a relatively blank slate to define him with the American electorate as the Louisianan embarks on a media tour to shore up his image and Democrats work to elevate his ultraconservative positions on same-sex marriage, abortion and other hot-button issues.
But at least for now, his ascent has done nothing to alter congressional Republicans’ standing in the eyes of voters or public perceptions of their competency to govern — something that is far more likely to be put to the test if Congress is unable to reach a deal to avert a government shutdown later this month.
Eli Yokley is Morning Consult’s U.S. politics analyst. Eli joined Morning Consult in 2016 from Roll Call, where he reported on House and Senate campaigns after five years of covering state-level politics in the Show Me State while studying at the University of Missouri in Columbia, including contributions to The New York Times, Politico and The Daily Beast. Follow him on Twitter @eyokley. Interested in connecting with Eli to discuss his analysis or for a media engagement or speaking opportunity? Email [email protected].