Under Trump, Republicans Dislike Their Own Party’s Leaders More than They Did Barack Obama When He Became President

Eight months into Donald Trump’s presidency, Republicans now disprove of their own party’s representatives in Congress as much as they did Barack Obama in his early months in the White House.

Approval of congressional Republicans has sunk to a new low of 15 percent among the general population, according to a Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday. Much of the drop is tied to their approval rating among the party’s own members, which has fallen to 32 percent, with 61 percent saying they disapprove.

Related: How Alabama Senate election results could trigger Trump’s impeachment

By comparison, Obama had a 43 percent approval rating among Republicans when he assumed office in 2009. It was only after two months in office that Obama’s rating among GOP voters began sinking to the low numbers where they would remain for his two terms in the Oval Office.

Republican voters also look upon their party’s members in the House and Senate considerably less favorably than they do the current president. Trump, according to the Quinnipiac poll conducted last week among 1,412 voters nationwide, had an approval rating of 79 percent among his own party's members.

Such disparity is hardly a surprise, considering the unprecedented divide between the president and members of his own party. Trump ran for the White House as a self-confessed outsider, taking on establishment figures in the Republican Party and challenging traditional conservative positions.

Since taking office in January, he has refused to fall in line with his party’s leadership. Trump has taken shots at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in particular, over the Senate’s failure to repeal and replace Obamacare. He has similarly directed personal attacks at veteran Senator John McCain, who has twice delivered fatal blows to Trump’s hopes of undoing Obama's signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act.

Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump, Paul Ryan President Donald Trump speaks as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan listen during a meeting with House and Senate leaders at the White House on June 6. Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images

Polls suggest Trump’s approach of blaming Republicans on Capitol Hill for the failure to pass any major pieces of legislation since taking office is proving successful, at least for the time being.

The disapproval with establishment Republicans could also be seen in this week’s GOP runoff election in Alabama. The McConnell–aligned Senate Leadership Fund poured millions of dollars into the campaign of Senator Luther Strange, but it was an evangelical outsider, Roy Moore, backed by the Steve Bannon-Breitbart wing of the party, who triumphed in resounding fashion.

Bannon, a Trump ally even though the president publicly backed Strange, framed the election as a chance to deliver a “day of reckoning” to McConnell and the party’s establishment. Bannon has signaled that the victory was just the start of a campaign to go after Republican incumbents heading into the 2018 midterms, spelling yet more trouble for the party’s hierarchy.

Writing to Republican donors in a memo obtained by The New York Times in the wake of the Alabama result, Steven Law, president of the Senate Leadership Fund, drew a direct comparison between congressional Republicans and the former president whom GOP voters loathed so much.

“The Republican Congress has replaced President Obama as the bogeyman for conservative GOP primary voters,” he said. “This narrative is driven by Trump himself, and it resonates with primary voters who believe the Republican Congress ‘isn’t doing enough’ (as we frequently heard in focus groups) to advance the president’s agenda.”