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Most and least popular senators in America

  • Most and least popular senators in America

    The Senate is one of the key instruments of the “checks and balances” that serve as the function of the federal government. Giving advice and consent to the executive branch of the government—i.e. the White House—senators are responsible for passing laws, treaties, and nominations put forward by the president of the United States. As such, their votes and actions have had an immense impact on American society and history. Each state in the union has two senators with six-year terms and no term limits.

    In an era of prevalent polling and political chatter, American senators are under fire now more than ever. With no limits for how many terms they can serve, some senators have been in the chamber for an entire lifetime—while some are simply serving to fill a short vacancy. These days, the 100 senators comprising the upper house of the United States Congress are arguably under more scrutiny by American citizens and the press since the nation's founding. Never before has the public had so much unfiltered access to the details of a senator's leadership, from off-the-cuff comments to their personal lives. Because of this, senators' approval ratings today tell much more about the person behind them than the political makeup of the states they represent.

    These members of Congress increasingly find themselves in precarious positions as everything they say is shared wide and far across social media, the internet, cable news, radio, and print. Their actions, words, and legislative records matter more and can represent serious advantages or disadvantages to them in an election year—the next of which will take place in 2020.

    To determine how popular each American senator is, Stacker pored over survey data from Morning Consult. The global tech company distributed 472,802 surveys to registered U.S. voters across all 50 states from Jan. 1 to March 31, 2019 (data last updated April 2019), in order to determine approval ratings of all current 100 United States senators. Respondents could answer each question with “strongly approve,” “somewhat approve,” “somewhat disapprove,” “strongly disapprove,” or “don't know / no opinion.” Respondents were only surveyed on the senators they were assigned to based on their states of residence.

    In this gallery, U.S. senators are ranked from least popular to most. In cases of a tie, the senator with the lower “never heard of” rating takes the lower rank. Keep reading to find out how your state senators are seen through the public eye.

    You may also like: Most and least popular governors in America

  • #100. Bob Menendez

    - Approval rating: 33%
    - Never heard of: 24%
    - Disapproval rating: 43%
    - State: New Jersey
    - Party: Democrat

    Despite being long-tenured on Congress, Bob Menendez of New Jersey went through some legal trouble in 2015 when he was indicted for corruption charges. While those charges were eventually dropped after a hung jury and mistrial, Menendez is the least popular senator in the country despite winning reelection in 2018. Most recently, the senator introduced legislation that would ban gun silencers.

  • #99. Gary Peters

    - Approval rating: 33%
    - Never heard of: 43%
    - Disapproval rating: 23%
    - State: Michigan
    - Party: Democrat

    Since becoming a senator in 2014, Gary Peters is still working on his name recognition. He previously served three terms in the House of Representatives and was one of many legislators working with the Obama Administration to gain debt forgiveness for Chrysler during the Great Recession. With his significant unpopularity in Michigan, Peters is especially vulnerable to his main competition in 2020, Republican and Army veteran John James.

  • #98. Thom Tillis

    - Approval rating: 34%
    - Never heard of: 33%
    - Disapproval rating: 33%
    - State: North Carolina
    - Party: Republican

    North Carolina Republican Thom Tillis has received criticism from the political right wing for breaking with President Donald Trump on occasion during his first term. Nevertheless, the president on June 25 endorsed Tillis' upcoming bid for reelection, which stands to be a nail-biter as the unpopular senator squares off with the likes of Army Reserve counsel Calvin Cunningham III, a Democrat.

  • #97. Martha McSally

    - Approval rating: 35%
    - Never heard of: 30%
    - Disapproval rating: 35%
    - State: Arizona
    - Party: Republican

    Martha McSally's ascension to the Senate is a strange case. The former congresswoman lost to Democratic opponent Kyrsten Sinema in 2018, but gained the other Senate seat for Arizona after Sen. Jon Kyl stepped down and Republican Gov. Doug Ducey appointed McSally to the role. McSally opened up during a Senate hearing about being raped by a superior officer during her time in the Air Force.

  • #96. Cory Gardner

    - Approval rating: 35%
    - Never heard of: 30%
    - Disapproval rating: 35%
    - State: Colorado
    - Party: Republican

    Cory Gardner narrowly defeated the Democratic incumbent in 2014 to become senator there, and today is the only Republican serving Colorado in a statewide elected office. Gardner in June 2019 introduced a bill that would allow the U.S. State Department to pay hackers a bounty for finding bugs in their computer systems.

  • #95. Pat Roberts

    - Approval rating: 35%
    - Never heard of: 31%
    - Disapproval rating: 34%
    - State: Kansas
    - Party: Republican

    Pat Roberts serving in Congress for 15 years before being elected to the Senate in 1996. He acted as a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee at the beginning of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now into his 80s, Roberts will not run for an additional term.

  • #94. Mitch McConnell

    - Approval rating: 36%
    - Never heard of: 14%
    - Disapproval rating: 50%
    - State: Kentucky
    - Party: Republican

    Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell is arguably the most well-known senator in the country, given his status as the Senate Majority Leader and as one of the most controversial (and least popular) legislators currently serving. McConnell is especially criticized for blocking President Barack Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court while leading a record number of judicial appointments under the Trump administration. A more recent headline involves the growing pressure on McConnell to move forward with a bill that would benefit 9/11 first responders.

  • #93. Dick Durbin

    - Approval rating: 37%
    - Never heard of: 28%
    - Disapproval rating: 35%
    - State: Illinois
    - Party: Democrat

    Dick Durbin is a prominent liberal in the Senate who serves as the House Minority Whip under Chuck Schumer. Durbin recently expressed regret voting for the 1994 crime bill, a piece of legislation under scrutiny during the Democratic presidential primaries.

  • #92. Josh Hawley

    - Approval rating: 37%
    - Never heard of: 34%
    - Disapproval rating: 30%
    - State: Missouri
    - Party: Republican

    The youngest person currently serving in the United States Senate was previously the attorney general of Missouri, defeating incumbent Claire McCaskill in a 2018 election. Hawley introduced legislation aiming to fight against perceived “online bias” against Republicans from tech companies, receiving much criticism and ridicule.

  • #91. Jerry Moran

    - Approval rating: 37%
    - Never heard of: 35%
    - Disapproval rating: 28%
    - State: Kansas
    - Party: Republican

    Sen. Jerry Moran entered the Senate in 2010 as the successor to Sam Brownback, who was elected governor of Kansas. During his service, Moran acted as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, leading the Republican Party to a net gain of seats that led to the Senate's majority after the 2014 elections. In June he was the sole senator from Missouri or Kansas to support blocking President Donald Trump from selling munitions to Saudi Arabia.

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