Welcome to the season when demons run amok. No, not Halloween, the midterm election cycle.
The favorability rating for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, demonized for years but whose very name has become a Republican curse in this midterm election, hit a new low of just 29% while 56% said they view her unfavorably, according a Gallup poll released on Wednesday.
When the California congresswoman became speaker in January of 2007, her favorability rating was at 44%, about double her negatives.
The sharp dislike of Pelosi is hardly a surprise since she has become the GOP’s favorite punching bag in this electoral cycle. Conservative Republicans dislike the liberal Californian for a host of domestic and international issues. She has been demonized the “tea party” movement for successfully pushing healthcare insurance overhaul, stimulus spending and other aspects of President Obama’s legislative program through her house.
To be sure, Democrats have also played the demonizing game, attacking Republican and tea party candidates for being shallow, extreme and generally unqualified. It was a pattern that was common in 2008 against vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin and in this cycle has been used against Senatorial candidates such as Rand Paul in Kentucky, Christine O’Donnell in Delaware and Sharron Angle in Nevada.
Sen. Harry Reid, locked in a tough race in Nevada against a tea party favorite, has also been a target as the GOP tries to regain control of Congress. According to a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, just 15% of Americans thought favorably of Reid while more than double, 32%, thought ill. Surprisingly, more than a third said they had no opinion or didn’t know who Reid was.
The current Gallup poll had data that was likely to be even more galling to Democrats than Pelosi’s growing unfavorability.
The poll found that American voters saw Pelosi as more unpopular than GOP leader John Boehner, who would become speaker if Republicans succeed in capturing the House on Nov. 2. Only 27% said they viewed him favorably, but his negatives at 31% were significantly lower than Pelosi’s.
Like Reid, Boehner also benefits his lack of national visibility – despite being a target for top Democrats, including President Obama. More than two of every five people, 42%, said they had no opinion or had not heard of the man who would be just behind the vice president in the presidential succession line.
Gallup’s results are based on 1,029 telephone interviews with U.S. voters from Oct. 14 to 17. It has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.