After an election year in which Republicans elevated progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York as part of an effort to paint the entire Democratic Party as socialist and outside the political mainstream, new polling suggests Democrats may have found their own shiny new foil in their quest to hold the House in 2022.
According to Morning Consult/Politico polling, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene — the Georgia Republican known for her incendiary rhetoric and embrace of conspiracy theories — is becoming increasingly recognizable to voters, akin to an increase in recognition measured for Ocasio-Cortez after she took her place in the House two years ago. The growing exposure provides Democrats with an emerging lightning rod as they try to brand the GOP as the party of conspiracy and QAnon.
The latest survey, conducted Jan. 29 to Feb. 1 among 1,986 registered voters nationwide, found 46 percent have an opinion about Greene – up 21 percentage points since a poll conducted in August ahead of the Republican National Convention. It is slightly less than the share who had formed views about Ocasio-Cortez by this time two years ago, but a comparison of those respective August and January months reveals that awareness of Greene has grown more quickly as she draws attention following the Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill.
The increase in notoriety for Greene was driven by a 29-point surge in the share of Democrats who have formed opinions about her, marking a larger initial name ID boost than Ocasio-Cortez saw among Republicans by this time in 2019 – though the New Yorker’s national fame continued to grow throughout the 2020 campaign.
Democrats have already worked Greene’s image into campaign ads against vulnerable Republicans, tying the GOP to QAnon and the likes of Greene just as Republicans tied the Democrats to socialism and “AOC,” but the comparison between the two lawmakers is imperfect.
The New York progressive, who scored a surprise primary victory over an establishment Democrat in 2018, was made famous as a proponent of a liberal policy agenda and was sought after by other candidates for her support as her tenure progressed. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) even participated in high-profile media appearances with the then-freshman lawmaker, though she kept some distance from parts of Ocasio-Cortez’s policy agenda.
On the other hand, Greene has drawn attention for sometimes violent rhetoric and embracing conspiracy theories like QAnon and widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election. She was dubbed the House GOP’s “frontwoman” by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee after she introduced articles of impeachment against President Joe Biden on his first full day in office, and has been in the middle of an intraparty rift on Capitol Hill over House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney of Wyoming’s support for Trump’s impeachment.
Greene, who is disliked by a third of the electorate — and by more than 7 in 10 of those who have views about her — is also divisive among Republican voters, with about 1 in 5 each expressing positive and negative views in the latest survey.
Greene elicits a muted response among GOP voters compared to better-known Republican leaders, such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who on Monday issued statements condemning conspiracy theories within the GOP’s ranks and aligning himself with Cheney. The lion’s share of Republican voters (47 percent) hold negative views about McConnell, up 23 points since August. Forty-two percent of the party’s voters hold unfavorable opinions about Cheney, up 14 points since August, with most of the movement coming since the Jan. 6 riot.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who has been tasked with managing the internal GOP strife, is the only congressional Republican leader tested in the survey who has seen his intraparty standing improve: As more Republican voters have formed opinions about the Californian, the share with favorable views has increased by 6 points to 39 percent.