A new Morning Consult poll found that Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is the most popular senator in the country with a 75% approval rating, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is the least with only 44% of his constituents approving his performance in the Senate.
Notably, the most popular senators are far more popular than the least are unpopular. All of the top 10 least popular senators but Mitch McConnell have the approval of a plurality or even a majority of their constituents. Not a single senator actually has majority disapproval.
And though McConnell remains the least popular senator, his approval ratings has actually improved from 39% in September. Now only a plurality, rather than a majority, disapprove of the Senate Majority Leader.
Other prominent Republicans have also seen improvements in their ratings. Marco Rubio of Florida has risen by 10 points, bringing him to a 52% majority approval rating, while fellow 2016 presidential candidate Rand Paul of Kentucky has risen by five points, bringing him to a 53% majority approval rating. 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain of Arizona has risen two points to a 51% majority approval rating.
While Bernie Sanders of Vermont remains the most popular senator, his approval has actually dropped by 12 points since September. Tim Kaine of Virginia, who ran as Hillary Clinton’s running mate in the 2016 election, also saw his approval rating drop by 10 points.
Of the 76 senators with a 50% or higher approval rating, 37 are Democrats, while two – Angus King of Maine and Bernie Sanders – are independents who caucus with Democrats. This isn’t a particularly good sign for Democrats hoping to take back the Senate in 2018, especially given that they have to defend 10 seats in states won by Donald Trump.
Most constituents surveyed by Morning Consult actually knew their senators. However, Democrats planning for 2020 are likely disappointed to see Kamala Harris of California on the top 10 most unknown list. If she is to have a real chance of denying Donald Trump a second term, the freshman senator will need to make herself more known to both her constituents and the country. Still, a 52% majority still approve of Harris.
Many of the other Democratic senators speculated to run for president in 2020 have the same problem. While Chris Murphy of Connecticut, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, and Sherrod Brown of Ohio all have a 50% or higher approval rating, between 13% and 22% of their constituents do not know of them. On the other hand, speculative candidates Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Al Franken of Minnesota are incredibly well-known to their constituents.
However, we still do not know who will run in 2020, and much can change from now till then. For the moment, Democrats should focus on attempting to win back the Senate in 2018, which, as this survey shows, is quite a long shot.