Voter skepticism of GOP congressional investigations spikes: poll

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)
Greg Nash
Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) arrives to speak with reporters following a meeting with President Biden at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, February 1, 2023.

Public skepticism of Republican congressional investigations spiked in the first weeks of the House GOP majority, according to a February survey from progressive public opinion and research operation Navigator Research.

But the survey also found a slim majority of voters think that Republicans would do the right amount or not enough investigation into “various events and individuals.”

The Feb. 9-13 survey of voters found that 46 percent of voters said that Congressional Republicans will overreach in various investigations, while 30 percent said Republicans will do the right amount of investigation and 24 percent said Republicans would do too little oversight.

That result, released Wednesday, amounts to a 16-point increase in the proportion of voters expecting Republican overreach in investigations since early January.

A Navigator Research survey ending Jan. 9 found that 30 percent of voters thought Republicans in Congress would overreach in investigations. When the survey was conducted again Jan. 20-23, that figure ticked up 10 points to 40 percent.

House Republicans have launched numerous investigations into the Biden administration as they have gotten organized in the new majority, including probes into the origins of COVID-19, policies on the U.S.-Mexico border, alleged politicization of intelligence agencies and business activities of President Biden’s family, particularly his son Hunter Biden. A new House Judiciary select subcommittee promises to focus on “weaponization” of the federal government.

Bryan Bennett, lead pollster for Navigator Research, indicated that voters are seeing a mismatch between what they would like to see from lawmakers and actions from Republicans in the 118th Congress.

“What we’ve seen is kind of a rise in the share who believe that the number one issue is actually that Republicans in Congress are focused on investigation, and less so on issues like inflation or health care,” Bennett told The Hill. 

As investigations have kicked off in the last several weeks, Bennett said, Americans have continued experiencing negative economic sentiment and are uneasy about their own personal finances, which could be playing into the rise in skepticism of the GOP probes.

Bennett added that in recent focus groups where soft partisans and independents were asked about the House Republican majority, there was some openness to investigating issues like unfair trade practices or abuse and fraud in COVID-19 relief funds.

“But a lot of the investigations that particularly oriented around President Biden or Hunter Biden were largely seen like — I remember some of the quotes are like, ‘You know, it’s a tit-for-tat list.’ ‘It’s a political get-even list.’ Or, ‘a revenge list,’ ” Bennett said.

As Republicans geared up for investigations in the House, Democrats and left-wing groups also propped up rapid response teams and organizations to combat them. Bennett said it is hard to say how much impact those groups have on the change in public sentiment, but that he suspects it is a more organic reaction.

The February survey also measured voter attitudes on the Fair Tax Act, a proposal to overhaul the tax code to eliminate income, payroll and estate taxes and replace it with a 30 percent sales tax. The proposal from Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.) gained notoriety after news broke that its consideration was a rumored concession from Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in order to woo those who opposed him in the Speaker election. 

Navigator Research found just 28 percent of registered voters support the proposal, with 53 percent saying they opposed it and 19 percent saying they were unsure.

“These are pretty poor numbers for the Fair Tax Act,” Bennett said. “The Inflation Reduction Act” — Democrats’ climate, tax, and health law enacted last year — “in the same survey earns about 66 percent support.”

McCarthy has said the Fair Tax Act “would have to go through committee,” but several key Republicans — including House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) — have expressed opposition to the bill.

Tags Biden administration Buddy Carter Congressional investigations Fair Tax Act GOP investigations House GOP majority Hunter Biden Investigations

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