The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll will be setting the narrative for the rest of the day, and that narrative is not an especially good one for Republicans. While Americans are not happy with the president’s approach to the border crisis, this poll suggests that the public is even less happy with Republicans and want the GOP to pass the president’s $3.7 billion supplemental package to deal with the situation on the southern border immediately.
Overall, 33 percent of respondents said they approve of the president’s handling of the humanitarian disaster on the border while 58 percent disapprove. Those are terrible numbers, but they look better in comparison to congressional Republicans.
Of congressional Republicans, 66 percent disapprove of their handling of the border crisis while only 23 percent approve. A majority, 53 percent, support Obama’s proposed emergency spending package billed as being designed to “provide care for these children while their deportation cases are heard” and “speed their deportation hearings and to increase border security.”
It looks like the GOP is in a terrible position from these topline results. Why the pollster even thought to ask respondents about how the Republicans in Congress are handling the border crisis is a mystery if not for a desire to contrast the president against a more unpopular foil. A glance at the data, however, suggests that the president’s approach to the border crisis is in a far worse position with the American public.
Republicans in Congress, who receive poor marks from nearly two-thirds of the public, can attribute some of that antipathy to their own voters. “Almost as many Republicans disapprove of their party’s handling of the issue as say they approve, with negative ratings rising to a majority among conservatives,” reads The Post’s write up of the poll. 48 percent approve of the GOP’s approach to the crisis while 45 percent disapprove.
Only 22 percent of independents and 9 percent of Democrats approve of the GOP’s approach to the crisis. The president, meanwhile, maintains the support of 57 percent of Democrats who approve of his approach to the border crisis. 12 percent of Republicans and 28 percent of independents agree. If the GOP maintained the intraparty unity that Obama benefits from, their numbers would look similar to the president’s.
More interestingly, support for Obama’s handling of the crisis across racial demographics is shockingly weak. Only 27 percent of whites support his approach compared to 66 percent who oppose it. Just 55 percent of African-Americans back the president’s approach to this crisis – an unusually low finding for a demographic whose approval of the president Gallup currently pegs at 84 percent. Finally, a majority of Latinos – 54 percent – disapprove of Obama’s handling of the border crisis. Only 40 percent support his approach.
As for the support of the supplemental package, it is unclear why anyone would oppose it based on both the wording of the proposal put to voters in this survey and the absence of an alternative. Without a counter proposal, the fact that throwing money at a problem – money aimed at providing medical care to needy children, no less – only received 53 percent support is striking.
But digging into the numbers here is also instructive. Among registered voters, as opposed to all adults, 2 percentage points shifts from support to opposition (51/45). Two-thirds of self-described Democrats support the proposal along with 51 percent of independents.
35 percent of self-identified Republicans back the proposal. The most opposition to the plan comes from those who identify as “conservative Republican.” Among this group, only 29 percent support the supplemental package while 66 percent oppose it.
In a crisis, and the situation at the border is a crisis, a plan always beats no plan. Right now, while it is imperfect and many do not trust that the federal government will carry out the deportation of the majority of the unaccompanied migrant children at the conclusion of their expedited deportation hearings, the proposed supplemental package remains the only option on the table to deal with an acute catastrophe.
Why this pollster decided to gauge the nation’s opinion of how congressional Republicans have handled this situation, I have no idea. Beyond the fact that it serves to conveniently remind the public that the GOP is, as ever, more unpopular than Obama – a refrain you will hear for the rest of the day.