The fallout from the ouster of former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is still alive the day after the lower chamber voted to remove him from his position. Speculation as to who might replace him has been prominent on the airwaves and interwebs.
But what does America think?
The findings of a new poll might shed some light on people’s attitudes toward the historical moment. A new Economist/YouGov survey reveals conflicting attitudes on the fate of McCarthy, which was brought about by a collaboration between Rep. Matt Gaetz and House Democrats. The move has been hotly debated on the right, with people arguing for and against removing the former speaker.
The poll showed that about 46 percent of Americans approved of removing McCarthy as speaker, while 28 percent disapproved. Among Republicans, the margin narrowed a bit, with 44 percent supporting the move and 34 percent opposing it. This further illustrates the current divide in the GOP in terms of philosophy and strategy.
But wait, there’s more!
Also noteworthy is the poll’s finding that 47 percent of Americans believed McCarthy’s ouster was a power grab. This included 41 percent of Republicans. This seems to indicate that the effort to get rid of the former speaker was not motivated by principles but by a desire for more power.
It is also worth noting that McCarthy’s stint in the speaker’s chair was marked by fluctuating popularity. When he first took the position, about 59 percent of Republicans approved of him. Only about 21 percent did not.
However, as time went on, McCarthy’s approval numbers dropped slightly. At the time of his ousting, about 56 percent of Republicans still held a favorable view of the former speaker.
Amid this current saga, Congress still remains widely unpopular, with a dismal 14 percent approval rating.
This news comes at a tumultuous time in American politics – especially for the Republican Party, which finds itself at a pivotal moment. The moderate wing of the party, represented by McCarthy, could be facing a reckoning. Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Steve Scalise (R-LA), both of whom represent the more conservative faction of the party, have thrown their hats into the ring.
The conflict between pragmatism and principled conservatism has been raging for more than a decade at this point, and it seems clear the Republicans are ready for something new, which might explain why so many supported ousting McCarthy. However, as I wrote earlier, even if a principled conservative is elected to replace the former speaker, corruption is likely too ingrained in the federal government for any one person to make a difference.
Still, this occurrence will almost certainly have a strong influence on where the GOP goes next. Will it continue using a more conciliatory approach with Democrats and focus on bipartisanship? Or will it become more antagonistic toward the left – at least in terms of rhetoric? The selection of the next speaker will provide a strong clue as to the future direction of the party, which is at a crossroads. I suppose we will find out soon enough how this all shakes out.