A USA Today headline reported that Bernie Sanders was the nation’s most popular Senator and Mitch McConnell was the least popular. It was based on an extensive series of survey interviews conducted by Morning Consult. Each Senator was rated based upon popularity with the voters in their home state.
I do not doubt the underlying numbers provided by Morning Consult. However, the story was outdated before it was published and does not present an accurate assessment of where things stand today. That’s because the Morning Consult surveys were conducted between July 1 and September 25. ScottRasmussen.com national polling found McConnell was unpopular during that time frame as well.
However, following the confirmation battle over now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh, McConnell’s favorability ratings soared. Back in August, just 36% of GOP voters had a favorable opinion of him and slightly more (37%) had an unfavorable view. He is now viewed favorably by 55% of Republican voters and unfavorably by 18%. Given the partisan demographics of Kentucky, McConnell’s numbers have undoubtedly surged there as well.
Among all voters, McConnell is now viewed favorably by 37%. That’s up from 20% in August and 30% in September. Far from being the least popular Senator, McConnell is now the most popular of the nation’s Congressional leaders.
The lesson here is that timing matters. Mitch McConnell appears to have been the nation’s most unpopular Senator over the summer. But, it’s not the case today.