"Ultimately, 2013 wasn't just a bad year for the speaker and the president; it was also a bad year for Americans, who watched their government partially halt for 16 days, sending their confidence in the economy downward and convincing them that government itself was the nation's biggest problem."
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February 26, 2014
Boehner's Favorability Returns to Pre-Shutdown Levels
Thirty-two percent view speaker favorably, 50% unfavorably
Still, Boehner, who on Tuesday attended his first private meeting with President Barack Obama since late 2012, continues to be viewed more unfavorably (50%) than favorably (32%).
The latest results are from a Feb. 6-9 Gallup poll.
Gallup first asked Americans about Boehner's image in 2009, when a quarter (25%) viewed him favorably and 23% viewed him unfavorably, with the rest, 52%, having never heard of him or having no opinion.
Over the years, Americans have generally viewed Boehner more unfavorably than favorably, except in January 2011 -- when he took the speaker's gavel after Republicans won control of the House of Representatives -- and again in November 2012, when Americans were more favorable than unfavorable by one percentage point.
For Boehner, 2014 could be a turning of the page as he recovers from the October federal government shutdown, which resulted in his party's receiving the lowest party favorability ratings ever recorded by Gallup, and a drop in his own image to 27% favorable and 51% unfavorable.
His favorability has now edged back up to where it was in April of last year (31%).
He recently allowed a vote on the debt ceiling increase with no attached legislation -- a move Boehner had never previously made as speaker.
Boehner had set the tone for 2013 by telling his party in January of that year that he was done negotiating with the president one-on-one, and hadn't met with him since December 2012.
New Year, New Favorability Ratings, New Relationship
As Obama and Boehner met in the Oval Office Tuesday, the president clearly had the upper hand in terms of image.
Like Boehner's favorability ratings, the president's ratings took a dip in late 2013 and have begun to recover this year.
But unlike Boehner's, Obama's ratings have tended to be much more positive than negative over the years since he first ran for the presidency, though well below those from his initial year as president and his personal high after he won the 2008 election.
[In fact, Obama Favorable ratings have been in a downtrend for five years. They peaked at 78% before he assumed office and hit lows of 50% in 2010 and 2013 with Obamacare.]
In the February survey, Obama's favorable vs. unfavorable ratings were 52% to 46%.
The president and the speaker have consistently sparred on a variety of fiscal issues since Boehner became speaker, and the two hadn't met privately since their unsuccessful attempt at a bargain as the "fiscal cliff" loomed in 2012.
Last year's political drama didn't improve their relationship by any means, and culminated in October's government shutdown, leaving Obama with his second-lowest favorability rating since taking office in 2009.
With both of their favorability ratings on the rise since the shutdown, 2014 could serve as a restart for Boehner and Obama.
Boehner and Obama's relationship has likely never been more ready for negotiating, as both reconnect after a hard year of gridlock.
But while the stalemate over raising the debt ceiling has let up, other disagreements such as immigration might not be overcome.
Ultimately, 2013 wasn't just a bad year for the speaker and the president; it was also a bad year for Americans, who watched their government partially halt for 16 days, sending their confidence in the economy downward and convincing them that government itself was the nation's biggest problem.
At this point, Americans see Obama in a much more favorable light than they see Boehner, giving the president considerable power in the court of public opinion as the two leaders joust on a series of issues and policy proposals facing the country.
This has been typical of president-speaker relationships, with presidents commanding much higher favorability from the nation that elected them to the job.
Boehner is no exception to this, and lower favorability usually comes with his role in the political process.
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