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Poll: Republicans support Biden probes, reject compromise

The survey found Americans remain overwhelmingly concerned with inflation and most have unfavorable views of leadership in the White House and Congress.

(CN) — With the balance of power having shifted in the U.S. House of Representatives, a majority of Republicans want their party leaders to take an aggressive approach against the Biden administration rather than compromise to solve the nation’s problems, the Pew Research Center reported Tuesday.

Although that number fell from 72% of Republicans in January 2022 to 64% this year, a survey of 5,152 adults also found a 56% majority of Republicans are concerned congressional leaders won’t do enough to investigate President Joe Biden's personal life and professional dealings. On the other hand, 42% of Republicans worry too much effort will be placed on partisan investigations.

Among Democrats, 89% believe Republican leaders will spend too much time and effort on investigations. That number has soared since May 2019, when 51% of Democrats were worried about the emphasis their party leaders were putting on investigating former President Donald Trump.

“Over the last several years, clear majorities of Republicans have expressed a preference for GOP congressional leaders to stand up to Biden on important issues, even if it makes it harder to address the country’s problems,” the Pew report states. “In contrast, Democrats have consistently expressed more support for Biden working with Republicans, even if it means some disappointment for Democratic voters. However, those in both parties are somewhat more likely to favor compromise with opposing leaders than they were a year ago.”

On Jan. 12, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed former Maryland U.S. Attorney Robert Hur as a special counsel to investigate potential wrongdoing regarding classified documents found at the president’s Delaware home. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and other Republican members are expected to launch committee investigations into Biden’s handling of classified documents, the so-called “weaponization” of the Department of Justice and the IRS and the business pursuits of the president’s son, Hunter Biden, among other things.

Congress is currently wrestling with negotiations to raise the debt ceiling, while ongoing budget discussions are expected to be particularly contentious. 

The Pew survey also determined that Biden’s approval rating has stagnated around 38% since July 2022, while nearly eight in 10 adults, or 78%, rate the nation’s current economic condition as poor. The survey also indicated most respondents, or 56%, have an unfavorable view of Vice President Kamala Harris. 

“Even as inflation appears to have leveled off since last summer, large shares of the public continue to report concerns about prices,” the report states. The 75% of respondents “very concerned” about the price of food and consumer goods has increased two points since October, while in that same time, slightly fewer people reported concerns with the price of gasoline or energy. Sixty percent of respondents remained very concerned about housing prices in October and again this month.

It’s not all bad news for Biden, however, as the survey indicated economic views have slightly ticked upward since October and perhaps more encouraging, roughly 70% of Americans remain somewhat or very optimistic about the job market. 

Today, about two-in-ten (21%) rate the nation’s economy as excellent or good, up modestly from the 17% who said this in October and the 13% who had positive views of the economy in July 2022. Still, positive ratings remain lower than the 28% of one year ago and the peak of 57% in 2020. (Pew Research via Courthouse News)

The survey also weighed in on congressional leadership. McCarthy, whose campaign for House speaker sputtered to gain support among members of his own party in more than a dozen rounds of voting earlier this month, is viewed more favorably by Republicans than he was last summer. Still, only 47% of Republican respondents viewed McCarthy favorably, while 26% viewed him unfavorably. 

“The share of the public who offer a favorable opinion of McCarthy is up nine percentage points … while the share who have an unfavorable opinion is largely unchanged,” Pew reported. “Both Republicans and Democrats are now more likely to express an opinion of McCarthy than they were last year.” 

It was also noted McCarthy had better numbers than his colleague in the Senate, Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who 56% of Republicans view unfavorably, along with 63% of all respondents. 

On the other side of the aisle, only 28% of all respondents had a favorable view of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York. Pew found that only one congressional leader, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, another New York Democrat, “is not viewed negatively, although about half of the public say they have never heard of him, nearly double the share of any other leader in Congress.”

The survey was conducted Jan. 18-24 using a random sampling of residential addresses nationwide. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories, according to Pew.

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