Poll: Bob Menendez, Claire McCaskill, Bill Nelson’s Popularity Plummets

Menendez, McCaskill, Nelson

Sens. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), and Bill Nelson’s (D-FL) popularity plummeted, according to a poll released on Wednesday.

A Morning Consult poll released on Wednesday found that Sens. Menendez, McCaskill, and Nelson’s popularity has plummeted since the second quarter of 2018—the last time Morning Consult ran this poll. The Senate Democrats represent three of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats up for re-election this November.

Sen. Nelson, who faces a contentious race against Florida Gov. Rick Scott, saw a dramatic 12-point decline since the second quarter. The third quarter of 2018 represents the first time that Florida voters had a net-disapproval of Nelson, with a 41 percent of Floridians disapproving of the senator, while only 39 percent of voters approving of the incumbent Democrat. According to the Real Clear Politics average, Nelson only leads by two points over Gov. Scott.

Sen. McCaskill saw a net drop of seven points in her approval rating in the third quarter and remains virtually tied with Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley. McCaskill, according to the poll, serves as the most unpopular senator up for re-election.

Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN), another vulnerable Senate Democrat, saw a net seven-point drop in approval rating. Donnelly faces a contentious race against Hoosier businessman Mike Braun.

Sen. Menendez, who is tied in the polls with Bob Hugin in deep-blue New Jersey, was the second most unpopular senator up for election during the 2018 midterm elections. Menendez’s favorability fell by eight points, with 46 percent of New Jersey voters disapproving of the incumbent Democrat’s performance.

Morning Consult wrote that Sens. Nelson, McCaskill, Donnelly’s popularity dropped below President Donald Trump’s approval rating, “Nelson joined three other Senate Democrats on the ballot next month in Trump-won states — Claire McCaskill in Missouri, Joe Donnelly in Indiana and Joe Manchin in West Virginia — in trailing the president’s net popularity among their constituents.”

Other vulnerable Senate Democrats up for re-election, such as Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), made the top-ten list for most unpopular incumbents. Forty-three percent of West Virginians disapprove of Manchin, while 44 percent of his constituents approve of the incumbent Democrat. An October survey found that Sen. Manchin’s lead in the polls slipped to only four points over West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.

In North Dakota, 43 percent of North Dakotans disapprove of Sen. Heitkamp, compared to 47 percent of voters who approve of Heitkamp.

All of these Senate Democrats—except for Manchin—voted against confirming Judge Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court. Several polls over the past couple of weeks have detailed how Republicans have skyrocketed in the polls amidst the Democrats’ smear campaign of Kavanaugh.

These Senate Democrats’ popularity plummeted after they all voted against Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court, which served as a political risk given that many of them represent states that went for Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election.

Republicans have seen what some analysts called a “Kavanaugh effect” in which Republicans have seen a surge in donations to Republican groups as well as interest in voting in the November midterm elections.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal released recently found that Republicans have nearly matched Democratic interest in the midterm election.

The poll said that 65 percent of Democrats are “very interested” in the midterm election, compared to 61 percent of Republicans who have also signaled that they are “very interested” in the November elections. The poll has a margin of error of 3.27 percent, which would make the poll a near tie in voter enthusiasm.

Glen Bolger, a GOP pollster, said “Seeing a significant jump in GOP voter interest in the elections this week. The Dem intensity advantage is melting away. Two things: 1. I figure it has to be Kavanaugh effect. 2. Remains to be seen if it lasts. GOP campaigns should not assume their turnout concerns are done.”

Josh Holmes, a Republican consultant, tweeted recently, “Looking at some poll numbers this morning, it’s impossible to overstate how important the Kavanaugh hearings have been to voters. Like dropping a grenade into the electorate. Ds in red states are not going to like this.”


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