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Paul Ryan's Favorable Rating Edges Up to New High

Paul Ryan's Favorable Rating Edges Up to New High

Chart: data points are described in article

Story Highlights

  • Nearly half of Americans (48%) have favorable view of Ryan
  • About one in five (18%) still unfamiliar with the House speaker
  • Ryan edges out Mike Pence, Donald Trump and Melania Trump in favorability

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- After navigating a shaky political tightrope throughout 2016, House Speaker Paul Ryan has reached his highest favorable rating to date. Nearly half of Americans (48%) hold a positive view of Ryan, up slightly from 44% in July and August before the election.

Paul Ryan's Favorability Ratings, 2012-2016

The latest favorable rating for the speaker is from a Nov. 9-13 Gallup poll. Thirty-four percent of U.S. adults view him unfavorably, essentially unchanged from 36% in August. About one in five have never heard of Ryan or have no opinion of him.

Ryan was recently re-elected as speaker of the House after a politically challenging year. He was first elected to the leadership position late last year, with many seeing him as a leader who could unite the divided Republican conference. But Ryan's election came amid a contentious GOP presidential primary season that put pressure on him to endorse Donald Trump, the controversial eventual nominee. Ryan denounced many of Trump's inflammatory comments, leading Trump to threaten not to endorse the speaker during his primary race in his Wisconsin home district. Despite their complicated relationship, the two GOP leaders maintained their endorsements of one another and must now work together in a GOP-controlled government.

When he became Mitt Romney's running mate in August 2012, Ryan was an unfamiliar face to more than half of Americans (58%) and registered his lowest favorable rating of 25%. His rating improved to 43% before the unsuccessful campaign's end.

Americans became less familiar with Ryan as he returned to his role as a U.S. congressman after the election. As a result, his favorable ratings ebbed to 31% by 2014. But Ryan's election to speaker of the House in 2015 boosted both Americans' familiarity with and favorability of him. He became better known as the highest-ranking elected Republican during the contentious 2016 presidential campaign; his favorable ratings rose to 44%, while his unfavorable ratings held steady, ranging from 34% to 36% since July. The speaker now emerges from the 2016 election with his most positive image to date.

Ryan Stacks Up Well Against Other Republican Party Figures

The speaker's ratings narrowly edge out not only those of Trump (42%), but also those of Vice President-elect Mike Pence (46%) and incoming first lady Melania Trump (43%).

Favorable Ratings of Republican Political Figures
Favorable Unfavorable Never heard of/No opinion
% % %
Paul Ryan 48 34 18
Mike Pence 46 33 21
Melania Trump 43 39 18
Donald Trump 42 55 4
GALLUP, Nov 9-13, 2016

Like Ryan, Pence and Melania Trump have much lower unfavorable ratings than the president-elect, largely because about one in five U.S. adults are unfamiliar with each of them. All three have seen their images improve since August.

Pence has seen the biggest improvement in both favorability and familiarity in that time. His favorable rating has increased by 10 percentage points, while the percentage unfamiliar with the vice president-elect dropped by nearly half, from 39% to 21%. Meanwhile, Melania Trump's favorable rating has improved modestly from 38% in August. Her image is now slightly more positive than negative, whereas before it tilted negative.

Bottom Line

Considering all that could have gone wrong for Ryan in recent months, the speaker's image is stronger than at any point in Gallup's trend. He faced a primary challenge from his home district in Wisconsin; his House GOP majority was thought to be imperiled; and, more recently, his chances of re-election as speaker were in question. But Ryan endured it all.

His next challenge will be moving past a rocky relationship to work with Trump. Despite their recent history, the two appear to be supporting each other in key ways now that the election is over.

Trump could stand to buoy his poor favorable ratings by embracing Ryan, who has emerged from the election in perhaps the best standing among Trump's allies. This puts Ryan in a strong position as a key leader in a newly Republican-controlled government.

Historical data are available in Gallup Analytics.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Nov. 9-13, 2016, with a random sample of 1,019 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 60% cellphone respondents and 40% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

View survey methodology, complete question responses and trends.

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.

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