It's not normal to have members of the party in control of Congress most upset with said Congress, note Gallup pollsters. And yet, GOP approval of Congress has dropped from 27 percent in February to 8 percent today.
Republicans would seem to be frustrated with their leaders after a string of failures for their party and big moments for President Obama and Democrats this summer — many of them done without Congress's say so.
If you'll note from the Gallup chart below, there seems to be a specific time when Republicans' opinions of their party in Congress started falling. After something of a honeymoon period in early 2015 — if you can call 27 percent approval a honeymoon — it has dropped mostly since June, from 18 percent down to a low of 8 percent, where it sits today.
June is when the Obama administration celebrated back-to-back victories in the Supreme Court: upholding President Obama's signature 2010 health-care reform law (again) and legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the nation. Obama also scored a hard-fought legislative victory on his landmark trade legislation, the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Then in July, Obama announced a historic nuclear agreement with Iran. In August, he watched embassies in Washington and Havana dust off their porches and raise their flags, the most tangible moment yet for renewed relations with Cuba.
Republicans, meanwhile, did not have a great summer. They weren't able to block Obama's Iran deal, and when an abortion controversy about women's health-care nonprofit Planned Parenthood landed in their laps, they failed to find a cohesive strategy to deal with their party's renewed outrage over abortion.
As summer faded into fall, congressional Republicans' problems got worse. Their leader in the House resigned rather than face mutiny within his own party, and the party struggled to find a new one.
By the end of October, Republicans got their act together enough to pass a two-year budget deal and elect Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) to lead the House. Before Ryan took office, Boehner ushered in a new two-year budget with help from mostly Democrats.
Whatever excitement there might be about Ryan, it doesn't register when it comes to Congress as a whole. And an 8 percent approval rating among Republicans bode poorly for Ryan and those hoping to get Republicans' legislative goals — crafting an alternative to Obamacare, cutting government spending, reforming the tax code — back on track. These new Gallup numbers don't show that Republican voters' opinions of their Capitol Hill leaders have improved since October's turnaround, suggesting GOP voters are still pessimistic about what their new leadership can accomplish.
Looking back on the past few months, it's easy to see why. Republican voters are frustrated that their party is finally in control of both chambers of Congress but has failed to reverse or block Obama's victories on any number of issues.
But the numbers do bode pretty well for the two men leading the 2016 GOP field right now: Donald Trump and Ben Carson. These two political novices have arguably benefited the most from their own party's frustration with the status quo and leadership.
As Republican voters become more and more disenchanted with their party, they appear to be looking more and more to people not necessarily associated with it. That helps explain why Trump's and Carson's individual surges of success this summer and fall have turned all the rules of politics upside down. They've never held political office, but together they now make up the top tier of 2016 GOP hopefuls — and about 50 percent in the polls.
Congressional Republicans are beginning a new era, but it does not begin with lots of good feelings. While Republican leaders like Ryan continue to pay the price for that, Trump and Carson have Congress's dysfunction to thank in part for their political fortune.