Bernie Sanders is most popular senator, Mitch McConnell is least popular

WASHINGTON – Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont is the most popular member of the U.S. Senate, while Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is the least popular, according to the latest Morning Consult poll.

The poll, released Wednesday, surveyed more than 350,000 registered voters in senators’ and governors’ home states to compile approval ratings for the third quarter of this year.

Vermont voters were especially happy with their senators, with 63 percent approving of Sanders and 61 percent approving of Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy.

The other three senators with the highest approval ratings in their states were: Democrat Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Independent Angus King of Maine and Republican John Thune of South Dakota. All three had approval ratings of 58 percent.

McConnell had an approval rating of 33 percent, with 52 percent of Kentucky voters disapproving of the Senate leader. Still, in a bit of good news for McConnell, his net approval rating rose 8 percentage points from the second quarter to the third quarter.

Majority leaders, by virtue of their roles as party leaders, often suffer from the perception that they are unduly partisan.

The other most unpopular senators were: Republican Jeff Flake of Arizona, with a 49 percent disapproval rate; Democrat Claire McCaskill of Missouri, with a 48 percent disapproval rate, and Democrat Robert Menendez of New Jersey, with a 46 percent disapproval rate.

Flake, who has angered conservative Republicans by sharply criticizing President Donald Trump on immigration and other key issues, is retiring in January.

McCaskill and Menendez are both facing tough races for re-election in November. McCaskill is running in a state that Trump won in 2016 and Menendez’s popularity has dropped after high-profile ethics scandals.

The late Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, a maverick who often angered conservatives in his party, split voters nearly in half, with 44 percent approving of him and 45 percent disapproving of him. He ranked as the fifth most unpopular senator. He died on Aug. 25 of brain cancer.

Vulnerable Democratic senators got some bad news in the poll. Four of them – Menendez, McCaskill, Bill Nelson of Florida, and Joe Donnelly of Indiana – all saw their net approval ratings drop from the previous quarter.

In contrast, Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., got a boost, with her net approval rating rising by 6 percentage points.

The poll also shows that the five most popular governors are all Republicans. They are: Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, Larry Hogan of Maryland, Kay Ivey of Alabama, Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, and Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota.

The five least popular governors are: Republican Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, Democrat Dan Malloy of Connecticut, Republican Bruce Rauner of Illinois, Republican Matt Bevin of Kentucky, and independent Bill Walker of Alaska.

Morning Consult surveyed 359,057 registered votes from July 1 through Sept. 25 to determine the senators’ approval ratings for the third quarter. The poll also surveyed 361,607 registered voters during the same time period to compile the governors’ rankings. The company did not provide a margin of error for the poll.

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