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No Top U.S. Government Official Earns Majority Job Approval

Story Highlights

  • Justice Roberts tops U.S. officials in job approval ranking, at 48%
  • House Leader Jeffries and Secretary of State Blinken score nearly as high
  • Roberts’ and Fed Chair Powell’s ratings down the most since 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As Congress and the Supreme Court return from holiday break, none of the leading elected or appointed figures of the U.S. federal government receives majority approval from Americans. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts fares best, with 48% approving of his job performance, while House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries is a close second, at 46%.

On the other hand, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has no competition for the distinction of being the least well-regarded, garnering a 27% job approval rating. The next lowest is President Joe Biden at 39%.

Six other key officials in the legislative and executive branches of the federal government receive approval ratings of 40% to 45%.

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These findings are from a Gallup poll conducted Dec. 1-20. Gallup last measured job approval ratings for top governmental leaders two years ago, in December 2021. Eight of the leaders measured today were on the 2021 list in their current positions, while Jeffries and Speaker of the House Mike Johnson are relatively new to their congressional leadership roles, appearing on the list for the first time this year.

Roberts, Powell Have Lost Most Support Since 2021

Although Roberts currently fares relatively well compared with his federal government peers, he has suffered the steepest decline in approval since December 2021 of the eight leaders measured in both surveys. In that earlier poll, taken six months before the high court overturned Roe v. Wade, 60% of Americans approved of the chief justice’s job performance.

Roberts’ 2021 job score set him apart from the Supreme Court at the time, which had just seen its approval rating decline to a record-low 40% amid some arguably unpopular decisions. By contrast, his current rating is much closer to the court’s, which remains near 40%.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is the only other leader measured in the new poll whose approval rating has fallen by double digits since December 2021. The decline in Powell’s approval from 53% to 43% likely reflects Americans’ holding him at least partially responsible for elevated inflation in recent years, which reached a 40-year high in 2022.

McConnell’s 27% approval rating is down from 34% two years ago. However, it is not the lowest Gallup has ever recorded for a congressional leader. While Gallup hasn’t tracked approval for every congressional leader, at least one, Newt Gingrich, garnered a lower rating — 25% — in 1997, when he was serving as House speaker.

McConnell’s recent seven-percentage-point slide since December 2021 exceeds the 44% to 41% decline for Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer.

The approval ratings of other key federal government leaders — Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Attorney General Merrick Garland — have also dipped modestly since 2021, each down by three to five points.

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New House Leaders’ Ratings on Par With 2021 Predecessors’ Ratings

Republican Speaker Johnson has held the position for only two months, but his 40% approval rating is identical to what former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, received in December 2021. Gallup did not obtain an approval rating on Johnson’s immediate processor, Republican Kevin McCarthy, during his nine months as speaker in 2023.

Meanwhile, Jeffries’ 46% approval rating as House minority leader matches McCarthy’s rating when he held this position two years ago.

Democrats More Content Than Republicans With Own Party’s Leaders

As expected, strong partisan differences are seen in the approval ratings of the 10 leaders measured in the new poll. Specifically, Republicans are more approving than Democrats of the two Republican congressional leaders, Johnson and McConnell, while Democrats are more approving of Democratic leaders Schumer and Jeffries. However, Democrats’ level of support for their own party’s leaders is substantially higher than Republicans’ is for theirs.

  • 80% of Democrats approve of Jeffries’ job performance, and 76% approve of Schumer’s.
  • 61% of Republicans approve of Johnson and only 36% of McConnell.

The greatest partisan differences — exceeding 70 points — are seen in Democrats’ and Republicans’ ratings of Biden and Harris, while there is a 67-point gap between their approval of Schumer.

The slimmest partisan gaps are for McConnell (17 points) and Roberts (18 points).

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The downturn in Roberts’ approval is owed equally to Democrats and independents, among whom his rating has declined by 15 to 16 points since 2021. He receives less-than majority approval from both groups as a result — 40% from Democrats and 48% from independents. By contrast, he has maintained majority approval from Republicans, currently at 58%.

The trend in support for Powell shows his decline is entirely due to fewer political independents approving, falling from 55% to 39%. Meanwhile, more than six in 10 Democrats continue to approve (currently 63%) versus only about half as many Republicans (29%).

Bottom Line

Unlike two years ago, when at least Chief Justice Roberts was a somewhat unifying force, no leader today in the White House, Congress or Supreme Court has majority job approval from Americans or comes close to receiving bipartisan support. Aside from Mitch McConnell, who lacks solid support from any party group, today’s leaders can merely count on their own partisan group to approve of how they are handling their job, while the opposing party (and, for the most part, independents) are more likely to disapprove than approve.

One good thing that can be said of these ratings is that Americans evaluate Roberts and top congressional leaders better than the institutions they lead. Most recently, 41% approve of the Supreme Court and 15% of Congress. It’s evidently not the leaders per se who are dragging these numbers down but perceptions about the broader membership, how the institutions operate or how they have responded to issues they are tasked to address.

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