Senate races

Polls show mixed support for vulnerable GOP senators in 2016

Two polls released Tuesday have mixed approval ratings for four red-state senators up for reelection next year in blue states. 

Results from the Democratic Public Policy Polling show the quartet starting off with approval ratings under 40 percent. But another one from the same day by Quinnipiac University shows stronger results for two of them. 

{mosads}Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) posts a 30 percent approval rating, the lowest among the four senators, in the PPP poll, Thirty five percent of registered Ohio voters disapprove of his four years in office, while 36 percent are not sure.

His Quinnipiac numbers, however, are stronger: 40 percent approval rating compared to 21 percent who disapprove. Thirty seven percent of voters in that poll believe he should be reelected, compared to 28 percent who do not.

Portman is a popular name among establishment conservatives and was a dark-horse pick to run for president before he ruled it out last year. The former head of the Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush, Portman served as the vice-chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee in 2014 and helped the party take control of the Senate.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) essentially split the opinions of voters, according to the survey esults. Thirty four percent both approve and disapprove of the senator, and one-third aren’t sure. But those numbers get a positive bump from the Quinnipiac Poll, which found that he has a 43 percent approval rating compared to a 25 percent disapproval rating.

The PPP poll queried voters on two other senators not included in the Quinnipiac poll: Republican Sens. Ron Johnson (Wis.) and Mark Kirk (Ill.). All four of the senators are from states that voted for President Obama’s two presidential elections and that have one senator from each party.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), also a freshman senator, has a 36 percent approval rate but 40 percent of voters said they disapprove of his performance. Johnson defeated Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold in 2010, but there could be a rematch in 2016.

Kirk was split among voters just like Toomey: 34 percent approval and disapproval, and one-third who were unsure.

The Alliance for Citizenship, a campaign that pushes for a legal pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and the Service Employees International Union, commissioned the PPP poll and tied the senators in a release to the battle over President Obama’s immigration actions.

American Bridge, the Democratic-aligned opposition research firm, is part of the Alliance for Citizenship campaign and participated on a mid-day press call announcing the findings. 

The majority of voters in the four states polled by PPP said they supported the president’s recent immigration actions that defer deportations for some undocumented immigrants and allow them to apply for work permits. That support is largest in Illinois, where 62 percent back the changes, compared to 30 percent who are against it.

Tags Mark Kirk Rob Portman Ron Johnson

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