The next House speaker should prepare to be unpopular. Just ask Paul Ryan.

We don't yet know who will replace retiring Paul Ryan as House speaker or when.What we can say, though, is tha...

Posted: Apr 13, 2018 8:43 PM
Updated: Apr 13, 2018 8:43 PM

We don't yet know who will replace retiring Paul Ryan as House speaker or when.

What we can say, though, is that whoever wants the job should be prepared to see his or her popularity tank. The American public has a tendency to turn on whomever is elected to the post.

Take Ryan for example. Ryan's net favorability (favorable - unfavorable rating) in a recent Quinnipiac University poll stood at -23 percentage points. That was actually below President Donald Trump's rating in the same survey of -22 percentage points. And remember, Trump is the most unpopular president in recorded history at this point in an administration.

Other surveys over the last six months have bounced around a little, though they've all shown Ryan with more people who dislike him than like him.

That's quite a change from when Ryan took the job back in late 2015. The first Quinnipiac survey taken after Ryan became speaker actually found more people liked him than disliked him. His net favorability in that survey +9 percentage points.

You might look at that decline and think that Ryan, in particular, did something really wrong. The truth is, though, that he's just followed the path that other recent speakers also took.

There may not have been a speaker who had a more miserable time than John Boehner. He had to put up with the Freedom Caucus and a Democratic president. He got rewarded for that by garnering an astonishingly low -32 percentage points net favorability rating in a Selzer & Company poll taken just before he announced he was leaving office in late 2015. He actually was liked by more Americans than disliked when entered office in January 2011, according to GfK Research.

And if you think this is just about Republicans becoming unpopular, guess again. Nancy Pelosi entered the speaker's office in 2007 better liked than disliked in a CBS News poll. By the time the 2010 midterms rolled around, when Democrats were swamped, her net favorability dropped 30 percentage points.

The list goes on from there. Dennis Hastert's popularity declined. Newt Gingrich's went downward. Even Democrat Tom Foley, who sought collaboration with Republicans, saw his net favorability rating drop by double-digits. He was then voted out of office by his constituents during the Republican Revolution of 1994.

Now it does seem that the drops in popularity for the most recent speakers have been greater than the three prior to them. Foley, Gingrich and Hastert saw drops in the low double digits compared to the 30-plus-point drops of Boehner, Pelosi and Ryan. The larger, more recent drops could have to do with the fact that trust in government and congressional approval ratings have remained at or near low levels over the past decade. As the highest-ranking member of Congress, it shouldn't be too surprising that a speaker becomes less popular as he or she becomes more closely associated with what is seen as a dysfunctional government.

Indeed, 1986 was the last time a speaker announced he or she was stepping down during a time when more people approved than disapproved of Congress and more than 40% of Americans trusted the federal government always or most of the time. In that term, then-Speaker Tip O'Neill left office with 67% (!) of Americans saying they thought O'Neill did an excellent or good job as speaker in a Harris poll. Just 23% said he did a fair or poor job.

With congressional approval and trust in government numbers still in the toilet, it's going to be very difficult for the next speaker to be anywhere near as popular as O'Neill.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 97049

Reported Deaths: 2919
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7148160
DeSoto562361
Harrison388374
Jackson352170
Madison331289
Rankin330879
Lee274870
Forrest250075
Jones249879
Washington225977
Lafayette219340
Lauderdale2064125
Bolivar184766
Oktibbeha180152
Lamar172435
Neshoba1580104
Lowndes157958
Panola150731
Sunflower147346
Leflore141381
Warren140950
Pontotoc127916
Pike124051
Monroe123669
Copiah119233
Scott117627
Coahoma116229
Marshall111117
Lincoln110453
Holmes109859
Grenada109536
Yazoo106230
Simpson104746
Tate100638
Union99824
Leake96138
Adams94237
Wayne90521
Pearl River89453
Marion86835
Prentiss86317
Itawamba83121
Covington82723
Alcorn82311
George78213
Tallahatchie77421
Newton77324
Winston74219
Tishomingo69138
Chickasaw68524
Tippah67217
Attala67025
Clarke60346
Walthall60226
Clay59618
Hancock58822
Jasper57715
Noxubee55116
Smith53615
Calhoun52212
Tunica49715
Claiborne46516
Montgomery46520
Yalobusha43614
Lawrence43313
Perry42419
Greene38717
Humphreys37815
Quitman3775
Stone37512
Jefferson Davis34211
Webster33813
Amite33210
Carroll32012
Wilkinson30518
Kemper29015
Sharkey26613
Jefferson2439
Benton2283
Franklin1933
Choctaw1866
Issaquena1053
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 136055

Reported Deaths: 2364
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19752350
Mobile13449292
Montgomery8852184
Tuscaloosa8654118
Madison792778
Shelby601349
Lee592760
Baldwin552650
Marshall396143
Calhoun353444
Etowah352145
Morgan331428
Houston292021
Elmore267348
DeKalb243221
St. Clair233036
Walker231984
Talladega217129
Limestone211920
Cullman190720
Dallas179126
Franklin178129
Autauga177325
Russell17633
Lauderdale172333
Colbert166626
Blount161715
Escambia161124
Chilton158830
Jackson158111
Covington140327
Dale139244
Coffee13596
Pike120510
Chambers116842
Tallapoosa116485
Clarke110016
Marion96829
Butler91339
Barbour8857
Winston74512
Marengo72420
Pickens66614
Bibb65610
Lowndes65427
Randolph65413
Hale64428
Geneva6344
Lawrence62123
Cherokee61213
Bullock60614
Monroe5908
Clay5878
Washington55913
Perry5416
Crenshaw54032
Conecuh53611
Wilcox53211
Henry5075
Macon48318
Fayette4628
Sumter43819
Cleburne3825
Lamar3702
Choctaw35112
Greene30315
Coosa1723
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