And now two new polls bolster that what may have seemed at the time like a sound political move — however craven — has earned Hawley few friends and many more enemies.
A poll from the Economist and YouGov shows that Hawley is still unfamiliar to many Americans, but among those who do have an opinion of him, it’s 2-to-1 negative. Thirty-five percent view him unfavorably, compared with 17 percent favorably.
The sentiment is similar in a poll from Axios and Ipsos. When people were asked whether they approved of the “recent behavior” of Hawley and other political figures, 68 percent disapproved, while just 24 percent approved.
Of course, to the extent that this was a political calculation, Hawley wasn’t necessarily trying to appeal to the broader electorate, as much as building a base within the GOP. Polling doesn’t indicate whether that has panned out, at least in the near term.
The Ipsos poll, in fact, shows that even Republicans are about evenly split on Hawley’s recent behavior, with 49 percent disapproving and 46 percent approving.
The YouGov poll is somewhat better for him, with 30 percent of Republicans having a favorable opinion of him and 16 percent having an unfavorable one.
But even in that survey, he doesn’t seem to have won over many people. Just 21 percent of Republicans have a “very favorable” opinion of him. He seems to have done much more to alienate the other side, with 54 percent of Democrats having a “very unfavorable” opinion of him.
Interestingly, Cruz fared somewhat better — at least with his own party. Although the Ipsos poll shows that all voters disapprove of his recent actions 65 percent to 30 percent, Republicans approve 61-36. But Cruz remains broadly unpopular, with the YouGov poll showing that Americans disapprove of him overall, 47 percent to 32 percent.
Hawley’s numbers are also notably worse inside the GOP than a man who made another key decision last week — but in the opposite direction. Vice President Pence rejected Trump’s entreaties to adopt another extraordinary measure: to try to reject certain states’ electors himself. Trump and some allies suggested that Pence could do this as the person presiding over the Senate — something that, unlike Hawley’s gambit and that Hawley himself acknowledged, the vice president didn’t actually appear to have the power to do.
But the vast majority of Republicans don’t seem to be holding that against Pence — despite Trump having criticized him for it. The Ipsos poll shows that 74 percent of Republicans approve of Pence’s recent behavior, compared with 25 percent who disapprove.
As should be noted about any polls these days, they have been prone to error. The fact that we have two surveys showing relatively similar things, though, and that even the bad polls in 2020 were off by only a few points, suggests that there’s something to all of this.
These polls are a snapshot in time. And the wording of the Ipsos poll keeps things narrowly focused on recent events. As the other poll demonstrated, Hawley is still unfamiliar to wide swaths of the electorate, meaning he has plenty of time to define himself with his other moves in the months and years to come.
But this was his first big entry onto the national political scene, and he played it bigger even than Cruz did, appearing near the Capitol shortly before the rally devolved into the storming of it and raising his fist at allies of his cause. He also pressed forward with his gambit after the Capitol was cleared, even as his colleagues used much more of the debate time to reflect on the ugly scene that had just descended upon them.
To the extent that this is a lasting moment in Hawley’s political career, it seems to have turned out nothing like he may have planned.