Despite that dubious status, however, the Kentucky Republican can take solace in the fact that he seems to be in good shape for re-election in 2014 — even when matched up against potential movie-star challenger Ashley Judd.
McConnell’s 55 per cent disapproval rating, and his net approval rating (-18 points) are both the worst marks for any U.S. Senator polled by PPP. Only 37 per cent of Kentucky voters surveyed approve of the job McConnell is doing in the Senate.
McConnell’s staff fired back at the results on Twitter Tuesday, linking to an article from former George W. Bush pollster Jan van Lohuizen in which he argues that automated pollsters like PPP can overestimate disapproval ratings.
PPP responded by noting that van Lohuizen has been wrong before — even in Kentucky, where he drastically underestimated the candidacy of Rand Paul. PPP also pointed out that its own methodology is consistent throughout its polling.
“And of course we use the same methodology on all of our Senator approval polls, and on that level playing field McConnell is most unpopular,” director Tom Jensen tweeted.
But while PPP found that only 59 per cent of Republicans approve of McConnell, the Republican Senate Leader is able to weather this unpopularity in a re-election matchup because Republicans and Independents are not willing to abandon him for a Democrat. In a theoretical matchup with Judd, for example, PPP found that McConnell would still earn 78 per cent of the Republican vote, and lead Judd 48-32 with Independents. He even captures 25 per cent of the Democratic vote.
Still, McConnell leads by only four points in a hypothetical matchup with Judd and other Democratic candidates, indicating that he remains a vulnerable target in 2014.