WASHINGTON — Sen. Jeff Flake’s vote against expanded background checks on gun sales earlier this month caused his approval ratings to drop, making him one of the “most unpopular” U.S. senators, a new poll says.
Public Policy Polling looked at approval ratings of five senators from four states – Alaska, Arizona, Nevada and Ohio – who voted against the background-check measure. The poll, released Monday, said 51 percent of Arizona voters disapproved of Flake’s performance, while 32 percent approved.
“He’s already the most unpopular senator in the country,” said Public Policy Polling Director Tom Jensen of Flake, who has only been in office since January.
But a spokeswoman for the Arizona Republican questioned the worth of the Public Policy Polling findings.
“If early PPP polls were accurate, Sen. Flake wouldn’t be in office right now,” said spokeswoman Genevieve Rozansky.
The automated telephone survey of 600 Arizona voters was conducted Thursday and Friday and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Flake responded in good humor to his Facebook page.
“Nothing like waking up to a poll saying you’re the nation’s least popular senator. Given the public’s dim view of Congress in general, that probably puts me somewhere just below pond scum.”
The poll was conducted for Americans United for Change, which describes its goal as challenging the “conservative far right.” Spokesman Jeremy Funk said Monday that even more than the immediate impact on Flake’s popularity, the organization saw that votes on background checks would affect future voting trends in Arizona the most.
Jensen said Flakes’ sharp drop reflected his vote on the so-called Manchin-Toomey amendment that would have required background checks on gun sales at gun shows and on the Internet. The amendment still has “overwhelming” public support even after it failed in the Senate earlier this month, he said.
“It’s very clear that these senators are really paying a political price,” Jensen said of those who voted against the amendment and then saw a decline in their approval ratings.
But one political science professor said it would be hard to pin the change in political fortunes solely on gun control.
“I think it is too much of a leap to say his position on just this one thing is responsible for that,” said Rudy Espino, a professor at Arizona State University. “Arizona is still pretty much a pro-gun state.”
Arizona’s other senator, Republican John McCain, also voted against Manchin-Toomey.
Espino said that gun control did get some attention in Arizona because of advocacy for it by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a Democrat who was wounded in 2011 shooting in Tucson that killed six people and severely injured her and 12 others.
Rozansky declined further comment Monday on the gun vote, pointing to Flake’s Facebook post from earlier this month in which he said he opposed the Manchin-Toomey amendment because it went “too far.”
But Flake is also getting a lot of attention because of his push for immigration reform, which is a big issue in the state, Espino said.
Public Policy Polling is one of the more reputable pollsters, Espino said, even though it works primarily for Democrats. He said the results seem accurate, and Republican challenges to them should not be a surprise.
“People like Flake and people on the right would be dismissing this result, but of course they are going to do that,” he said.
Despite the drop in popularity, Flake can relax for now because he will not be up for re-election for more than five years, Espino said.
“Five years is a long way off,” Espino said. “This one poll number might make a lot of hay, but I wouldn’t worry about it too much.”
- Infamous athletes who did the most time for their crimes
- 2016 baseball highlights, bloopers and blunders
- See how CFOs really feel about business in the Valley
- The best television shows on the internet
- A preseason guide to avoid holiday weight gain
- The 5 worst things you could do for your roof
- 6 coolest things brewing in Arizona
- The virus that keeps head and neck cancers on the rise
- State Fair ‘Kid Reporter’ has all the angles covered
- 4 important things to know about timeshare maintenance fees
- Signs of delayed car crash injuries
- The truth about sports concussions
- The Alzheimer's epidemic: Facts you need to know
- The season is here, keep your Fantasy Football team strong all season
- 8 TV shows you can't miss this fall
- Football is here: 6 tips to make this your best season ever
- Gameday recipes and beers to match
- 6 reasons the Cardinals are driven to win the Super Bowl
- The Pac-12 football season nears kickoff
- Tips to get ready for a pain-free golf season
- Protect your family with these 7 home security features
- How to train like an Olympic swimmer
- 2016 Olympics: A guide to must-see TV events
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier
- Three elements of a strong timeshare exit guarantee