Barack Obama’s approval ratings have rapidly declined as more of his hard-Left agenda hits the table and the economy begins to decline, but Obama’s not the only person who has that problem. Eric Ostermeier at Smart Politics looks at polling numbers from Survey USA and finds that almost everyone in the Senate has lost ground with voters. However, net approval for Democrats has declined twice as much as Republicans:
Herb Kohl (D-WI) has seen the biggest net drop, at minus 23 points during this span.
Overall, these 25 Senators have seen their collective +24.8-point net approval rating in January fall to +14.2 points in July.
But this growing disapproval by the public toward the job its Senators are doing in Washington has not been evenly distributed between Democrats and Republicans. The Republicans have seen their net approval rating drop an average of 6.6 points from January to July, while the Democrats have seen their net approval rating drop nearly twice that amount at 12.5 points. (SurveyUSA tracks the approval rating of 8 GOP Senators and 17 Democrats).
It looks as though Obama’s coattails have become an anchor. Eric ranks the Senators by rate of decline, and sees only two Republicans in the top 10, and three in the top 15. After Kohl comes Tom Udall (D-NM), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar (DFL). Klobuchar presents a curious case, as she has mostly been a nonentity in the Senate for the past two years and has no discernible change in her net approval ratings … until Al Franken became the other Senator from Minnesota:
In 22 consecutive polls conducted by SurveyUSA between July 2007 and June 2009, Klobuchar’s approval rating had a variance of just 5 points – falling between 58 and 63 percent in every survey. Similarly, her disapproval rating had been measured between 30 and 36 percent in every SurveyUSA poll during this two-year stretch.
The fact that Klobuchar’s approval rating should dip to its second lowest level, and her disapproval rating reach an all-time high, in the very first month in which Al Franken officially became her colleague in D.C. is ‘curious’ at the very least.
As a result of this apparent shift in public sentiment, Klobuchar has now endured the 4th largest drop in net approval rating since Barack Obama took office in January of this year among the 25 Senators tracked by SurveyUSA.
Three different explanations could account for this. Klobuchar has been a reliable supporter of the Obama agenda in 2009, which has grown increasingly unpopular, even in Minnesota. Her support for ObamaCare may prove especially problematic for her. Another explanation could be that the focus on Franken has highlighted the lackluster performance of Klobuchar in the Senate. She has been practically nonexistent, not involved in any significant way on major legislation or the national debate. One could reasonably wonder whether Minnesota had even one Senator in the upper chamber this year.
Third, and most problematic for Klobuchar, could be that Franken’s win may have Minnesotans rethinking the direction of their representation in Washington. That becomes important when it comes to determining whether Tim Pawlenty aims at Obama or Klobuchar in 2012. With Franken expected to be a reliably liberal Senator, perhaps even a radically liberal vote, Minnesotans may want balance, both in terms of ideology and in temperament. Klobuchar provides the latter — she’s downright soporific — but Pawlenty can provide both, plus show national leadership.
Even apart from Klobuchar, though, this study shows the danger facing the Democrats in 2010. Most of these Senators still have net positive numbers, but the rapid decline is likely to continue while ObamaCare and cap-and-trade remain on the table. Voters in these states are blaming their elected representatives for the radical agenda under consideration in Congress, and Democrats have a lot more to lose from anti-incumbent fervor this year than do Republicans.