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Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is one of the most powerful officials in Washington.
But back home, Kentucky’s senior senator polls only somewhat more popular than poison ivy and ebola.
Perhaps that’s a bit of a stretch, but, no McConnell is unloved in the Bluegrass State.
He regularly takes the dubious honor of being the most disliked of all 100 senators by the folks back home. His approval in the Bluegrass State is underwater at 38 percent approval and 47 percent disapproval.
Another, more recent, poll pegged McConnell’s approval at an even more dismal 33 percent.
So, then, how has this least popular of politicians survived for more than three decades of re-elections?
“McConnell’s M.O. in Kentucky is not so much to improve his own image as to drag his opponents down to his own level of unpopularity using his vast fundraising ability,” according to one recent profile of McConnell’s career published by New York magazine. “He also has, of course, a general election advantage based on his state’s partisan leanings, which have been trending Republican for a good while.”
McConnell last survived a tough election against a formidable Democrat in 2014. That means he will next face voters next year.
For that task, McConnell’s Democratic counterpart, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is trying to recruit a veteran and fighter pilot, Amy McGrath.
McGrath, 44, could make a formidable opponent. She sought a congressional seat in the 2018 midterm elections. She wound up losing to Republican Rep. Andy Barr, but she made a solid showing in that race.
And the fact that McGrath is a veteran and not a professional politician could make it more difficult for McConnell’s re-election campaign to drag her down to the degree he has with past opponents.
However, that will really depend on if McGrath decides to run at all.