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Poll: Half of GOP voters in Boehner’s district welcome primary challenge to speaker

Poll: Half of GOP voters in Boehner's district welcome primary challenge to speaker

A Sept. 4 Human Events/Gravis poll of more than 1,000 Republican primary voters in his congressional district, Ohio-8, shows 50 percent of them would welcome a primary challenge to Speaker John A. Boehner (R.-Ohio).

The poll, which dealt with issues facing Capitol Hill as the calendar collapses on unfinished business and new urgencies, was conducted by Human Events with Gravis, a Florida-based pollster, which has a margin of error of 2 percent. The poll had a sample population more than twice the size of a typical poll in a single congressional district, said Doug Kaplan, the founding owner of Gravis.

The poll also showed:

  • 17 percent of the voters support military action in support of the Syrian rebels;
  • 65 percent want Speaker Boehner to push to defund Obamacare “even if it means a government shutdown;”
  • 65 percent want Speaker Boehner to call a special committee to investigate the Benghazi incident;
  • 48 percent believe Speaker Boehner is not doing enough to lower taxes and spending.

Matthew B. “Matt” Kibbe, the president and CEO of FreedomWorks, the Washington-based training, logistics and policy support organization for Tea Party groups, said the poll reflects Boehner’s disconnect with conservative voters.

“Conservative activists in Speaker Boehner’s district have been disappointed time and time again on his failure to hold the line on fiscally conservative policy,” Kibbe said.

“He failed to stand up to Democrats on numerous debt ceiling fights, defunding ObamaCare, putting restrictions on the NSA’s data collection on American citizens, and failing to allow an open and transparent appropriations process,” he said.

“Most recently, the Speaker failed to host any town halls to address his constituents’ concerns face to face. It’s hard to lead effectively, when you are effectively invisible,” he said. Freedom Works ran a summer campaign helping local activists demand their members of Congress hold town hall meetings.

J. D. Winteregg, co-founder of the Ohio Accountability Project, said the poll reflects the mood of the people he talks in the district.

Winteregg said he has heard from conservatives contacting the project and from elsewhere in the district that Boehner is disconnected from the local mood.

It would not surprise him if there were a primary challenge to the speaker, he said.

The schoolteacher said he, along with local Tea Party activists, held an Aug. 27 “Defund Obamacare” rally in front of the speaker’s Troy office with a few hundred people showing up. “As far as I know, no one from Boehner’s office came out to talk to us.”

The Troy, Ohio resident said he was surprised to see support for military action in support of the Syrian rebels at 20 percent. “It seems a little high to me.”

There is little appetite in the district for the president’s plan to get involved in Syria, he said. “I have not met one person who is in favor of it, I have a buddy, who was thinking about it, but now he is against it.”

Winteregg said Boehner’s quick and full support for the president’s plans in Syria is no longer a surprise. “It’s just another Obama bailout.”

A Capitol Hill staffer said the polls numbers do not look good for the speaker.

The staffer said there are rumors in Washington that Boehner may retire at the end of this congressional session.

“Boehner’s days on Capitol Hill are numbered,” the staffer said. “It’s either his choice or the voters. Regardless, conservatives can no longer be ignored.”

Professor Daniel R. Birdsong, who teaches political science at The University of Dayton, said GOP voters might welcome a primary challenge to Boehner, not because they want him out of office, but maybe to send him a message.

Birdsong said as the Speaker of the House, Boehner is pulled towards national issues and a more national perspective. “They may think he is preoccupied with other things, so this would be a way to pull him back into the district.”

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