Approval Ratings for Pelosi Hit a New Low

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A month after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's showdown with the CIA over interrogation techniques, just 38 percent of Americans approve of her job performance, while 45 percent disapprove, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released yesterday. That's the lowest approval rating she has received in the poll.

One clear trend line has emerged in the California Democrat's 2 1/2 -year reign as speaker, and that's a slow but steady rise in unpopularity. Shortly after she became the first woman to serve as House speaker, just 25 percent of voters disapproved of her, according to a Post-ABC poll in January 2007. Now, almost twice as many people disapprove of her performance.

Republicans heightened their attacks on Pelosi after she charged the CIA with lying to her in a September 2002 briefing about which methods they were using against detained terrorism suspects. CIA documents appeared to show that she was fully informed that agency interrogators were using waterboarding and other harsh methods, while Pelosi countered that agency officials did not provide that information in an intentional effort to mislead her.

Pelosi can take heart in the findings among self-identified moderates -- the voters who frequently decide close elections. Among that group, 43 percent approve of Pelosi's job performance, with 40 percent not approving.

When those centrists' responses are broken down by party identification, a clear line emerges: Moderate Democrats overwhelmingly approve of Pelosi's performance (63 percent approval, 22 percent disapproval), while moderate Republicans have developed an outright hostility toward her (17 percent approval, 63 percent disapproval).

-- Paul Kane

© 2009 The Washington Post Company