The abrupt removal of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has triggered a divisive response within the Republican party, with no consensus among members regarding the controversial decision, according to a recent poll.
The unprecedented move to oust McCarthy by a faction of House Republicans has left the party in turmoil, as only a quarter of Republicans expressed approval of the decision. Meanwhile, three in 10 Republicans believe the motion to eject McCarthy from the speakership was a mistake, with all Democrats supporting his removal.
“It’s just chaos,” said Betsy Young, a Republican from Oregon, reflecting the sentiment of many party members. “And I don’t think it’s helpful.”
Approximately 4 in 10 Republicans (43 percent) neither approve nor disapprove of McCarthy’s removal, as indicated in a new poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. This poll was conducted after McCarthy became the first House speaker in history to be voted out of his position.
The political upheaval in Congress has created a deep divide among Americans, with some justifying McCarthy’s removal while others express concern about the precedent it could set for future speakers. In total, a quarter of Americans approve, a quarter disapprove, and about half remain neutral on the matter.
However, Young, who identifies as a moderate Republican, told AP that she thought the reasoning behind McCarthy’s removal was “stupid,” fearing that it could tarnish the GOP’s reputation. She emphasized the importance of bipartisan cooperation and urged politicians to consider the interests of the entire country, not just those in the political bubbles of Washington or state capitals.
The poll reveals that conservative Republicans are more likely to approve of McCarthy’s removal than their moderate or liberal counterparts, with 31 percent of conservatives supporting the decision compared to 16 percent of moderates and liberals. Even among conservatives, 33 percent expressed disapproval.
Surprisingly, a quarter of Democrats also disapprove of McCarthy’s removal, despite their representatives voting in favor of the motion. Thirty percent of Democrats approve of the decision.
The political shakeup continues as 39 percent of Republicans now have an unfavorable view of the former speaker, a slight increase from 25 percent in a previous AP-NORC poll conducted in January.
The ongoing conflict over congressional leadership comes after the House narrowly avoided a government shutdown by passing a short-term funding bill, postponing the fiscal deadline until mid-November. As debates over government spending and priorities resume in the coming weeks, including U.S. aid to Ukraine, the poll reveals that 69 percent of Republicans believe the U.S. government is spending too much on Ukraine aid.
Overall, a majority of Americans view U.S. spending as excessive but are not eager to make significant cuts to major programs. Americans are divided on which party would handle the federal budget better, with 27 percent favoring Democrats and 26 percent favoring Republicans. A third of Americans expressed distrust in both parties.
The poll surveyed 1,163 adults between October 5 and 9, 2023, with a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.
Georgia Gilholy is a journalist based in the United Kingdom who has been published in Newsweek, The Times of Israel, and the Spectator. Gilholy writes about international politics, culture, and education.