It looks like tax reform is already paying off with the GOP base

WASHINGTON -- Republicans in Congress say passing their sweeping tax reform plan will be a Christmas gift to the American people -- and it looks like Republican voters are already starting to give back.

new Quinnipiac University poll this week found that Republicans' views of their own party in Congress are above water for the first time since June, climbing from a 32-60% approval rating to a 47-43% score over the last month as the first drafts of tax reform passed both chambers.

It's still not a great approval rating for congressional Republicans to have among their own voters. The GOP had kicked off the year with a 66% approval rating among GOP voters -- and President Donald Trump is even higher than that among Republicans now.

But it's certainly an improvement from when approval of House Speaker Paul Ryan's and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's troops plummeted to a dismal one in three Republican voters after Obamacare repeal and replace failed (and failed again) over the summer.

"We want to give you, the American people, a giant tax cut for Christmas. And when I say giant, I mean giant," Trump said Wednesday. "Now we are just days away, I hope, I hope ... from keeping that promise."

Recent Marist polling backs up this theory with a similar trend: 65% of strong Republicans approved of the GOP in Congress in December -- an increase from a 54% approval rating among the same group in November.

House and Senate negotiators said they struck a deal this week on tax reform, and key lawmakers like Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Marco Rubio of Florida have come out in support of the agreement.

"This bill is far from perfect, and left to my own accord, we would have reached bipartisan consensus on legislation that avoided any chance of adding to the deficit," Corker said in a statement.

The lingering problem with tax reform

But a problem clearly remains: This tax plan is deeply unpopular with the public at large.

The same Quinnipiac University poll found that Republicans approved of the GOP tax plan by a broad six-to-one — but they're the only demographic with a majority-positive view of the tax blueprint.

Independents disapprove of the plan by three-to-one and Democrats by 30-to-one. Only 16% of independents and 3% of Democrats say they're more likely to vote for their member of Congress if they vote for the tax overhaul. Similarly low numbers say they approve of the way congressional Republicans are handling their job.

But Republicans in Congress feel they need to pass major legislation before the 2018 midterm elections to have something to show for their control of a unified government.

By more than two-to-one, Republicans and Republican-leaning independents thought this Congress was less productive than past Congresses in a Pew Research Center poll in early December.

This Quinnipiac University poll was conducted from December 6 to December 11 among 1,211 registered voters. The margin of error is ±3.5 percentage points; it is larger for subgroups.