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Speaker Paul Ryan's national popularity sags

Craig Gilbert, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Published 11:24 p.m. ET April 22, 2017 | Updated 23 minutes ago

Speaker Paul Ryan's national popularity sags

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan has seen his national popularity numbers sag. (Photo: VALDA KALNINA, European Press Agency)

MILWAUKEE — Like other House speakers before him, Paul Ryan is seeing his national image sag while he presides over an unpopular Congress struggling to get things done.

As the House returns this week from recess with a difficult to-do list, the Wisconsin Republican is suffering the worst polling numbers of his career.

His favorability ratings have gone from positive to negative for the first time in Gallup’s polling.

In a poll by Pew, his approval rating is 29%, his disapproval 54%.

In a survey by Quinnipiac, 28% of voters view him favorably, 52% unfavorably.

These national polls were all taken in the aftermath of the House GOP’s highly publicized failure to pass a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.

But they also reflect broader forces at work in Donald Trump's presidency.

The speaker is now a less popular figure among GOP voters than Trump is. But as a partner of Trump in Republican-run Washington, Ryan has seen his standing suffer among Democrats and independents.

“He’s becoming a more traditional partisan figure, and in today’s polarized environment, it’s hard to maintain high positives that way,” said Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of the Gallup poll.

It’s clear from the polling that views of Ryan have become more polarized along party lines nationally, just as they have in his home state of Wisconsin.

Ryan is tied much more closely to President Trump than he was to candidate Trump last year, when the two clashed during the campaign. And with Republicans holding unified power, he is now a more prominent symbol of the governing party.

“He has gained visibility, and that visibility has increased his negative image among Democrats,” Newport said.

Polls by Gallup and Quinnipiac suggest that most of Ryan’s erosion has occurred outside his own party, among independents and Democrats, who before this year had given Ryan better marks than they did other big-name Republicans.

In the latest Gallup survey, the speaker’s favorability among Democrats plunged from 39% last November to 14% this month.

In a Quinnipiac poll taken March 30 to April 3, 76% of Democratic voters viewed Ryan unfavorably, up from 42% at the outset of his speakership in the fall of 2015. Over that same span, Ryan's standing with independents has shifted from positive to negative.

In his home state of Wisconsin, Ryan's standing actually improved this year with Republicans while declining with liberals, Democrats, independents and moderates, based on a March poll by the Marquette University Law School.

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It’s not entirely clear how much the saga of the health care bill has fueled Ryan’s rising negatives nationally. The bill itself was unpopular, and the party's failure to come together was an embarrassment to the speaker. Ryan's numbers were declining before the legislation failed — and

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