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AP Poll: Republicans want principles, not compromise

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As GOP lawmakers in the House decide whether to unite around Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as the next speaker, an Associated Press-GfK poll finds Republicans nationally prefer congressional leadership that will stand on conservative principles, not compromise — even if it leads to a government shutdown.

Neither party’s supporters are particularly happy with their leaders in Congress, the poll suggests.

Some things to know about public opinion on Congress and its leadership from the AP-GfK poll:



Among Republicans in the poll, 62 percent say they would prefer a new speaker who will stick with conservative principles even if doing so leads to a government shutdown. Just 37 percent prefer someone who will compromise with President Barack Obama and Democrats to pass a budget.

That’s a struggle the next speaker will need to handle soon. The continuing resolution that funded the government and avoided a shutdown last month expires in December.

More generally, 56 percent of Republicans say they prefer leaders from their party in Congress to stick to their principles even if it makes passing legislation difficult, while just 43 percent want leaders who will compromise with the other side.

There’s a deep divide within the Republican Party on the issue of principles versus compromise.

Seven in 10 conservative Republicans prefer a speaker who will stick with conservative principles even if it causes a shutdown, while less than half of moderate or liberal Republicans say the same. More than 6 in 10 conservative Republicans, but just 4 in 10 moderate to liberal ones, say they generally prefer congressional leaders to stick to their principles even if it makes it difficult to pass legislation.



Among all those questioned, more say they would prefer that leaders from their party in Congress compromise to pass legislation rather than stick with their principles, 60 percent to 37 percent. Also, 63 percent say they want the next speaker to be someone who will compromise to pass a budget.

Democrats want their own party’s leaders to compromise with the other side rather than stick to their principles at the expense of passing legislation, 76 percent to 23 percent. A majority of independents also prefer party leaders to compromise.



People don’t feel particularly happy with current congressional leadership of either party. Majorities say both Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress don’t represent them well.

Even Democrats sizing up Democratic leaders and Republicans judging GOP leaders don’t have great feelings about how well they’re represented.

Just 37 percent of Democrats say Democratic leaders in Congress represent their views extremely or very well, while 47 percent say they’re represented only moderately well and 15 percent say they’re not represented well.

Among Republicans, even fewer — just 22 percent — think Republican leaders in Congress represent them very well, 45 percent moderately well, and 33 percent not well.

Liberal Democrats are more likely than moderate to conservative ones to feel very well represented by Democratic leaders in Congress, 50 percent to 30 percent. There’s no such difference between conservative Republicans and moderate to liberal ones, who are about equal in their opinions that congressional Republican leaders do a mediocre job of representing them.

Independents feel poorly represented by congressional leadership regardless of party. Six in 10 say leaders of each party in Congress represent them not very well or not well at all.



Whoever takes the helm as speaker will preside over a deeply unpopular institution. Just 16 percent of respondents approve of the job Congress is doing more generally, while 83 percent disapprove.

Twenty percent of Democrats and 13 percent of Republicans approve of the job Congress is doing.


The AP-GfK Poll of 1,027 adults was conducted online Oct. 15 to Oct. 19, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods, and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t otherwise have access to the Internet were provided access at no cost to them.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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