By AATTP contributing author Omar Rivero from Occupy Democrats
Laying to rest any doubts over whether or not the Senators who filibustered universal background checks on all gun buyers would suffer political consequences as a result of their transgression against the will of 90% of the American people, a new survey released today by Public Policy Polling(PPP) shows the considerably declining home state popularity of five Republican NRA stooges in the Senate.
Sen. Jeff Flake in Arizona appears to be the hardest hit in the court of public opinion, as his approval rating in his state has dropped to only 32%. Over 51% of Arizona voters said that they disapprove of Flake, while 52% said that his opposition to the gun legislation makes them less likely to vote for him in the future. Flake’s vote garnered increased scrutiny and disapproval last week after the New York Daily News published a letter he sent to the mother of a local shooting victim, in which he promised to support stronger background checks for all gun purchases. Adding insult to injury, a plurality of 45% of Arizona voters said that they trust Sen. John McCain, one of the only four Republicans to support the measure.
The two Alaskan senators who voted against the background checks legislation are also feeling the blowback from their gutless decision to sell out their constituents for the NRA’s campaign contributions. Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s, which once enjoyed a healthy 54% approval rating from her constituents, has seen her number drop to only 46%, while 41% said that they disapprove of her performance. The other Alaskan Senator, Mark Begich, who was one of only four Democratic senators to vote against the legislation, has not fared any better. He has seen his approval rating drop from 49% to 41%, while 37% of his constituents say that they disapprove of his job performance. In addition, 39% of Alaska voters told PPP that double made them less likely to support Begich and Murkowski in their next election, while only 33% said that their votes will make no difference in their support.
Republican Sen. Rob Portman from Ohio, who saw his national prominence spike last year as he was considered as a possible running mate by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, has seen a staggering 18 point drop to his approval rating in the last 6 months. In October, 35% of Ohio voters approved of his performance, and that number has dropped to a lowly 26% since. This new poll is just the latest piece of evidence that members of Congress could pay a steep political price for subverting the will of the American people and voting against gun-control legislation. PPP survey released just last week so that Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s approval rating in New Hampshire slipped underwater following her no vote on the background check bill, while a majority of New Hampshire voters admitted that they were less likely to support her in her bid for reelection. In contrast, a poll from Quinnipiac University indicated that Sen. Toomey, has seen a bounce in his approval rating following his sponsorship of the legislation.
Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller appears to have weathered the storm a bit better, with an approval rating that only dropped three points from 44% to 41%. However, a plurality of 46% of Nevada voters told PPP that they are less likely the back Heller for reelection as a result of his vote.
Although these are welcome developments for progressives, it is not time to for us to claim victory. We must continue to put public pressure on the NRA’s intransigent corporate stooges in order to ensure that American politicians are beholden to the interests of their constituents and not to the NRA and gun lobby.