by Jim Nintzel
Some quick takeaways from the latest Public Policy Polling survey, released this morning:
• Sen. Jon Kyl's attacks on Planned Parenthood, coupled with his "not-intended-to-be-a-factual-statement" defense, have damaged his standing among Democrats and independents;
• Sen. John McCain is remarkably unpopular, even though he handily won reelection last year;
• The idea of having a state gun isn't too popular.
Here's the summary from PPP:
Arizona voters oppose defunding Planned Parenthood...and perhaps in a related development Jon Kyl's poll numbers are on the decline. 51% oppose barring all federal funding for the organization, compared to 35% who would support that move. Republicans do support defunding by a 55/31 margin but both Democrats (69/16) and independents (62/27) are more universal in their opposition to it.
Kyl's approval rating the last time we polled Arizona, in late January, was a positive 47/40 spread. Now his numbers are flipped upside down with only 42% of voters approving of him to 46% who disapprove, representing an 11 point decline on the margin over the course of the last three months. Kyl's numbers are pretty much unchanged with Republicans but he is way down with Democrats and independents, perhaps not so coincidentally the two groups that are very supportive of Planned Parenthood. Kyl had an unusual level of crossover support from Democrats at 24% approval on our last poll, now it's just 16%. And with independents it's been an even bigger fall from 35% to 24%.
Generally we find that when a politician announces their retirement- and it's not because they're unpopular and doomed for reelection- that their numbers go up as a sort of goodwill gesture from the voters. Not in Kyl's case.
-John McCain and Joe Lieberman have been intertwined a lot over the last few years and here's another place where they share company- they are two of the three least popular out of the 81 sitting Senators PPP has done approval polls on since the beginning of 2010. McCain's approval rating is only 34% with 53% of voters disapproving of him. That makes him the third least popular. Lieberman is the least popular and John Ensign is the second least popular.
Lieberman and McCain have the same problem- they're not very popular with their party base but no one else likes them either. Only 44% of Republicans approve of McCain to 40% who disapprove and his spread is only 31/58 with independents and 23/67 with Democrats. There are other 'maverick' Senators who are not all that popular within their own parties- the Olympia Snowes and Susan Collins' and Lindsey Grahams of the world- but they make up for it with good numbers from independents and Democrats. McCain and Lieberman's actions have just caused pretty much everyone to dislike them.
-Jan Brewer continues to post narrowly positive approval ratings with 46% of voters giving her good marks to 45% who disapprove. Her numbers break down pretty predictably- 75% of Republicans approve while 78% of Democrats and 51% of independents disapprove. We thought there might be some concern from Republican voters that she was 'moving to the left' after her recent veto of the 'Birther Bill' but only 13% of GOP partisans think she's 'too liberal.'
-The most popular politician in Arizona other than Gabrielle Giffords right now appears to be
Joe Arpaio, somewhat by default with voters tepid on Brewer and negative toward McCain and Kyl. 49% of voters in the state have a favorable opinion of him to 42% with a negative one. 71% of Republicans like him but what sets him apart from the others is that 26% of Democrats do as well, giving him more popularity across party lines than any of the McCain/Kyl/Brewer triumvirate.
-And finally in another signal that Arizona might be a little less gun happy in the wake of the Tucson shooting, only 20% of voters in the state favor a Republican legislative proposal to adopt a 'state gun,' while 60% are opposed. Animosity towards that idea cuts across party lines, with only 28% of Republicans, 20% of independents, and 9% of Democrats supportive of it.