March 1, 2021

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Mitch McConnell’s Popularity in Free Fall as He Attempts to Retain Grip on Senate – Newsweek

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell faces plummeting favorability ratings as he attempts to retain sway over the upper chamber after losing his majority.

McConnell’s reign as majority leader was put to an end after Democrats won both the Georgia Senate runoff races, splitting the chamber 50/50 with the power of casting tiebreaking votes in Vice President Kamala Harris‘ hands.

Despite this defeat, McConnell has looked to retain what control he can over the Senate—having delayed proceedings with a dispute over retaining the legislative filibuster, which stalled movement on power-sharing, warning of a “scorched-earth Senate” should this be done away with.

“I made clear that if Democrats ever attack the key Senate rules, it would drain the consent and comity out of the institution,” he said in recent remarks, having taken a stand on this point.

“A scorched-earth Senate would hardly be able to function. It wouldn’t be a progressive’s dream. It would be a nightmare.”

His comments prompted a backlash from Democrats, who criticized his own actions during his time as majority leader.

As McConnell adjusts to his new role as minority leader and battles to retain influence on proceedings, with Democrats warned against complacency in regard to the Republican figurehead, he also faces a reckoning in terms of popularity according to recent polling.

In Gallup polling conducted January 4 to 15, 64 percent of 1,023 respondents said they had an unfavorable view of McConnell. This was up from 48 percent in similar polling in February last year.

As well as seeing a decline on the whole, McConnell also saw his ratings plummet among Republicans. His rating among Republicans in Gallup’s February 2020 polling was 69 percent favorable. In the latest survey results this had dropped to 42 percent.

YouGov’s favorability tracker for McConnell has also seen him hit a nadir. According to its percentages, based on weekly polling, he has a 68.8 percent unfavorable rating and a 17.2 percent favorable rating, his lowest since November 2017.

While his popularity may have suffered in recent months, McConnell won re-election to his Kentucky Senate seat in November, keeping him secure with a position in the Senate for the next six years.

But Republicans already have an eye on 2022—when 34 Senate seats will be up for election.

With the Democrats’ majority wafer thin, the GOP will be angling to regain control of the upper chamber and also looking to flip the House, for which every seat will be contested, having slimmed down the Democrat majority last time out. Democrats have also started a fundraising push in a bid to retain their majorities.

Newsweek has contacted McConnell’s office for comment on his ratings.

mitch mcconnell walks to the senate floor
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) heads to the floor of the Senate on January 26, 2021 in Washington, D.C. He is reckoning with a loss of power and his popularity rating falling.
Samuel Corum/Getty Images

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