What happens when you go against 90 percent of Americans and vote "no" on a bill that would expand background checks on gun sales? You become really unpopular, according to the results of a new survey from Public Policy Polling, or PPP.
Five senators in Alaska, Arizona, Nevada and Ohio who voted against the bill are now facing public backlash in their own states. Their approval ratings are declining, as expected, and voters are saying they are less likely to re-elect those lawmakers.
The five -- four Republicans and one Democrat -- helped block the background check bill in the Senate in a 54-46 vote April 17. It needed 60 votes to overcome a much-threatened filibuster.
Researchers surveyed 1,166 voters in Alaska, 600 in Arizona, 500 in Nevada, and 601 in Ohio from April 25-26 to get their views on their legislators following the recent vote. Here’s what they found:
Jeff Flake Most Unpopular
Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., just assumed office in January and he's already earned a dubious distinction: PPP found that he has the approval of 32 percent of voters, while 51 percent disapprove of him, making him the most unpopular sitting U.S. senator, beating out Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
Researchers found that 70 percent of Arizona voters favored background checks. Following Flake's "no" vote, 52 percent of voters say they are less likely to support him vs. 19 percent saying they are more likely re-elect him. Arizona voters say they trust Sen. John McCain over Flake to deal with guns, 45 percent vs. 24 percent, according to the survey.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski
The approval rating of Sen. Murkowski, R-Alaska, dropped from a high of 54 percent in February to 46 percent after she voted against the background check bill. Only 33 percent of voters disapproved of the Alaska Republican two months ago, but now that number is up 8 percentage points.
Earlier this month, Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, was among a handful of senators who voted to filibuster any gun control bill that came to the Senate floor and block debate. The Democrat from a red state, who is up for re-election in 2014, voted “no” on the background check bill.
But that does not seem to be helping. Begich’s recent 49 percent approval has dropped to 41 percent, with his popularity among Democrats plummeting from 76 to 59 percent. Republicans’ approval of the lawmaker remains at 24 percent, the same as two months ago. Sixty percent of Alaska voters support background checks and 39 percent of voters are now less likely to vote for both of Begich and Murkowski next election. The poll found that only 22 percent and 26 percent are more likely to vote for the lawmakers, respectively.
With 72 percent of Ohioans supporting background checks and the Republican Sen. Portman voting against it, his approval has dropped from 35 percent in October to 26 percent. Some 36 percent of voters say they are now less likely to support him in the future.
The approval rating for this Nevada Republican dropped from 47 percent just before the November election to 44 percent. With 70 percent of voters in that state supporting background checks on gun sales, 46 percent of voters aren’t likely to forget how Heller voted regarding gun control, and they say they're now less likely to support his re-election.
Read the full PPP poll.