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Justice Roberts Tops Federal Leaders in Americans' Approval

Justice Roberts Tops Federal Leaders in Americans' Approval

Story Highlights

  • Six in 10 Americans approve of job Roberts is doing on the high court
  • Slim majorities also approve of Jerome Powell and Dr. Anthony Fauci
  • Mitch McConnell has worst approval rating

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Chief Justice John Roberts earns the highest job approval rating of 11 U.S. leaders rated in a Dec. 1-16 Gallup poll with 60% approving of how he is handling his role.

Only two other leaders on the list are reviewed positively by majorities of Americans -- Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell (53%) and Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Dr. Anthony Fauci (52%).

U.S. Leader Job Approval Ratings, 2021
Do you approve or disapprove of the way each of the following is handling their job?
Approve Disapprove
% %
U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts 60 34
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell 53 40
Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease Dr. Anthony Fauci 52 47
Secretary of State Antony Blinken 49 43
Attorney General Merrick Garland 49 43
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy 46 49
Vice President Kamala Harris 44 54
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer 44 53
President Joe Biden 43 51
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi 40 58
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell 34 63
Gallup, Dec. 1-16, 2021

The poll finds the public divided in their evaluations of the job that two high-profile members of the Biden Administration are doing -- Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Attorney General Merrick Garland. Both appointees receive 49% job approval ratings with 43% disapproving.

Views of House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy are also closely split but lean slightly negative with 46% approving and 49% disapproving.

Americans' impressions of the bottom four ranking figures are decidedly more negative.

  • The slight majority of adults disapprove of the jobs Vice President Kamala Harris (54%) and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (53%) are doing, while 44% approve of each. Harris' approval rating is on par with President Joe Biden's 43% in the same poll.

  • Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is viewed slightly more negatively than Harris and Biden, with 58% disapproving and 40% approving.

  • Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell receives the worst ratings of the 11 measured, with 63% disapproving and 34% approving.

Gallup has limited trends on these job approval ratings, but it's noteworthy that Harris' approval rating has declined from 49% since September; at the same time, Biden's has been steady at 43%. Her disapproval rating has increased from 49% to 54%.

Only Roberts Enjoys Bipartisan Approval

Roberts is the only one of the leaders rated this year who receives majority approval from Republicans (57%) and Democrats (55%) in addition to political independents (64%). Most of the other leaders are viewed positively by two-thirds or more of one party versus less than a quarter of the other.

A key exception is McConnell, whose performance is approved of by less than half of Republicans (46%). At the same time, he receives the lowest ratings of the 11 from Democrats (21%) and independents (35%). Strikingly, majorities of all three groups disapprove of McConnell: 75% of Democrats, 64% of independents and 52% of Republicans.

The Senate Republican leader's counterpart in the House of Representatives, McCarthy, sparks a more typical partisan reaction, with 71% of Republicans, 48% of independents and 23% of Democrats approving of his performance.

Unlike McConnell, who has had a falling out with former President Donald Trump since he left office, McCarthy maintains a cordial relationship with Trump. McConnell and McCarthy have also taken different approaches to lifting the debt ceiling, with McCarthy opting out of supporting a bipartisan deal that McConnell backed. But it's not the first time McConnell has been unpopular with Republicans -- Gallup found party members viewing him unfavorably in 2015 when Republicans were frustrated with a lack of legislative successes in Congress.

All other figures in the poll are viewed more positively by Democrats than Republicans. These include Biden appointees Powell, Garland and Blinken, Democratic members of Congress Schumer and Pelosi, and the Democratic vice president (Harris). Although Biden renominated Powell earlier this year, he was originally tapped to head the Federal Reserve by Trump, perhaps explaining his relatively high rating among Republicans (30%).

Fauci's job approval is particularly skewed by party, with a 66-percentage-point gap between Democrats' (85%) and Republicans' (19%) ratings. Although Fauci has served as director of NIAID across four Democratic and three Republican administrations since he was appointed during Ronald Reagan's presidency in 1984, clashes between him and several conservative voices (including Trump) over COVID-19 policies have strongly politicized his public image.

U.S. Leader Job Approval Ratings by Party, 2021
% Approve
Republicans Independents Democrats Net Republican
% % % pct. pts.
Kevin McCarthy 71 48 23 +48
Mitch McConnell 46 35 21 +25
John Roberts 57 64 55 +2
Jerome Powell 30 55 67 -37
Merrick Garland 26 51 66 -40
Antony Blinken 22 49 73 -51
Chuck Schumer 11 40 76 -65
Nancy Pelosi 6 38 71 -65
Dr. Anthony Fauci 19 48 85 -66
Kamala Harris 7 42 77 -70
Gallup, Dec. 1-16, 2021

Bottom Line

Chief Justice Roberts is in a unique position as the sole public leader of the 11 evaluated who enjoys majority-level approval from Americans in all party groups. The only other public figure in the poll who partisans agree on is Sen. minority leader McConnell, but in his case, it's a consensus of disapproval.

While this is by no means an exhaustive list of public officials, the leaders rated were selected based on being some of this year's more high-profile figures in the federal government. The strongly partisan cast to most of the ratings is expected in today's political environment. But the fact that half of the leaders receive higher approval than disapproval from Americans as a whole is evidence of some national harmony. It is also a counterpoint to Americans' general disapproval of Congress and the Supreme Court in recent polling, as well as their broader lack of confidence in the federal government and politicians.

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Explore President Biden's approval ratings and compare them with those of past presidents in the Gallup Presidential Job Approval Center.

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.

View complete question responses and trends (PDF download).

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