When politicians first take office, they usually ride on a bubble of good will among their constituents.  Consider it the triumph of hope over experience; after an election, most people hope they will do well even if they didn’t support the winner in the election.  With that in mind, Eric Ostermeier looks at Al Franken’s initial job-approval ratings after a month in office, and finds that bubble missing entirely:

A newly released SurveyUSA poll conducted only two weeks into Franken’s tenure finds Minnesotans unsurprisingly divided about how he is conducting himself as their Senator in Washington. The poll finds 43 percent of Gopher State adults approving of his job performance and 45 percent disapproving.

A recent Smart Politics analysis of Franken’s colleague Amy Klobuchar found her approval ratings approaching a career low at 54 percent in July. Overall, many Democratic and Republican Senators have seen their approval ratings take a hit this year in light of the nation’s economic and budget troubles.

Still, Franken begins his second month in office with one of the worst net approval ratings among newly elected members to the Senate in recent years. … Franken’s low approval rating should not surprise political observers as the DFLer only received 42 percent of the vote last fall – virtually identical to the percentage of those now approving of his job performance (43 percent).

Not only did Franken fail to gain any traction in that first month, the poll surveyed Minnesota adults, not registered voters or likely voters.  That should have given Franken the best opportunity to gain approval points.  Instead, he looks like a flop across the board.

  • Age demographics – Oddly, Franken does better among older voters than younger.  A majority of 35-49 year olds disapprove of Franken, 50%-37%, and the 18-34 demo disapproves 49%-43%.  He gets plurality support in the two age demos 50 and above, but not majorities.
  • Own or rent?  It makes almost no difference.  Homeowners slightly disapprove 43%-42%, while renters slightly approve, 47%-46%.
  • Students disapprove, 49%-46%, while part-time workers approve 57%-33%, and retirees 46%-40%.  Homemakers disapprove by a wide margin, 56%-35%.

The lesson here is that Franken is an extraordinarily weak incumbent even before he’s cast enough votes to alienate his constituents.  If the GOP can make 2014 a two-candidate race, Franken should be easy to beat.