Republicans are more confident in House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) than House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) to “do the right thing” in the ongoing negotiations on raising the country’s debt limit, according to a new Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll.
Fifty-nine percent of Republicans said they have “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of confidence in Boehner, according to the poll, which surveyed 1,006 national adults and had a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.
By contrast, 44 percent of Republicans polled said they had “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of confidence in Cantor to “do the right thing.”
The poll suggests that, while Cantor has been positioning himself in the debt debate as the leader more in tune with conservative Republicans, most Republicans believe Boehner is better handling the negotiations.
The two House Republican leaders met privately with President Obama on Sunday morning in their first joint meeting at the White House. Boehner had huddled one-on-one with Obama on two previous occasions, with the aim of reaching a “grand bargain” on the debt ceiling. But the speaker abandoned that goal in part due to protests from his lieutenants, Cantor and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), that any sweeping deal that included tax increases would not be able to pass the House.
Even as they have taken contrasting approaches to the debt ceiling talks, Boehner and Cantor have worked to present a united front in the negotiations. At a news conference late last week, Boehner threw his arm around Cantor at the podium while dismissing Democratic criticism of the Virginia Republican.
Republican confidence in Boehner also bests that in Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), in whom 43 percent of Republicans polled said they had “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of confidence in the debt-limit talks.
Among Democrats, Obama received the highest marks, with 82 percent of Democrats saying they are confident in the president to do “the right thing” on the debt limit. Fifty-four percent of Democrats said the same of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and 42 percent expressed confidence in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
Among all of the leaders polled, Obama fared best among independents, 42 percent of whom expressed confidence in the president. No other leader cracked the 30-percent mark among independents.