PPP Poll Shows Mitch McConnell Is ‘Most Unpopular Senator In The Country’

Author: December 16, 2012 1:49 pm

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A poll released by polling firm Public Policy Polling (PPP) hurt Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s feelings recently when they said that their polls show that’s he’s unpopular, with an approval rating of only 37%.

“Both in terms of raw disapproval (55%) and net approval (-18) McConnell has the worst numbers of any of his peers, taking that mantle from Nebraska’s Ben Nelson,” PPP wrote.

As reported by the Louisville Eccentric Observer (LEO), McConnell’s campaign manager, Jesse Benton, recently sent a fundraising email  that claims that President Barack Obama ordered PPP to “manufacture” a survey to misrepresent Senator McConnell as the “most unpopular Senator in the country.” Instead of speaking to why McConnell is so fabulous and should be re-elected, Benton used almost the entire letter to blame President Obama for his boss’s poor polling numbers.

“Barack Obama and his allies told us what they were going to do,” Benton wrote. “They think if they can manufacture a difficult re-election for Senator McConnell back home in Kentucky then they can push our Leader around in Washington.”

In his fundraising letter, Jesse Benton attempted to discredit PPP, saying:

“The partisan PPP polling company, which has been used as a tool for Obama Democrats to manufacture circumstances that don’t exist all across the country, descended upon Kentucky to proclaim that Senator McConnell has a 37% approval rating. The poll is laughable. But, the liberal press is gobbling it right up. What was really surprising was that even cooked books couldn’t produce a Democrat candidate who could beat Senator McConnell head to head.”


As explained by the New York Times, most polling firms do lean one way or another  – left or right – but a  Fordham University study conducted by Costas Panagopoulos, PH.D analyzed polling firms using the procedures proposed by Martin, Traugott and Kennedy in the academic document “Public Opinion Quarterly, Fall 2006″ for assessing predictive accuracy. Panagopoulos analyzed estimates from 28 polling organizations, and found PPP to be number three in reliability in polls conducted during the 2012 presidential election. So for accuracy, PPP ranks higher than respected polling firms such as Gallup, Pew Research, NPR, and more. Furthermore, the Economic Policy Journal stated:

PPP reported the correct winner in all 9 battlegrounds and in the 3 other states (Michigan, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania) that the Romney campaign feinted toward.

Joe Sonka, the writer of the LEO article, contacted PPP Director Tom Jensen for his response to Jesse Benton’s opinions. According to Mr. Jensen:

“I think one of the biggest lessons of the 2012 campaign was that when Republicans are attacking polls it’s a sure sign that they’re losing. GOP campaigns all over the country made these kinds of claims about us this year and we ended up calling every state in the Presidential race and Senate race we polled correctly. Nate Silver found that to the extent there was any bias in our polling, it was actually pro-Republican. 

Jesse Benton himself knows well that the last time we produced a surprising poll in Kentucky it was right on the mark — and that time it was to his benefit. In December 2009 we came out and said Rand Paul had a 19 point lead over Trey Grayson in the primary. That was an unexpected result at that point in the campaign and Grayson/McConnell’s people attacked the heck out of us for several days just as they’re doing now. I think that finding held up pretty well. “

The poll gave an explanation as to why Senator McConnell has a chance of being re-elected despite his unpopularity:

The reason McConnell does decently well in the head to head match ups despite his poor approval numbers is that even though a lot of Republicans dislike him, most of them would still vote for him in a general election before they would support a Democrat. This is the same phenomenon we saw in Florida and Pennsylvania this year where Bill Nelson and Bob Casey won by solid margins despite middling approval numbers because Democrats that weren’t thrilled with them still voted for them. And although independents don’t like McConnell they don’t like most of the Democrats either, and they support McConnell in every match up we tested.

Jesse, we do admire your devotion to your boss:

“I took this job because I believe in Senator McConnell and the critical leadership that only he can provide. I wanted to do my part to defend him at home so he can do his job for us, standing up to Barack Obama’s dangerous agenda and fighting for common sense, conservative solutions to the difficult problems our nation faces.”

Wait. Weren’t you Ron Paul’s campaign manager? You took this job because your last boss failed and you no longer had a paycheck. You took this job because like the working class Americans that your boss ignores, you have to work to pay your bills. You got this job because, as a failed campaign manager, Senator McConnell probably got you for a discounted rate.

It would serve you and your boss well to pay attention to PPP instead of bashing it. And if you need someone to proof your letters before sending, get in touch with me. The first thing I’d advise is to attempt to find SOMETHING your boss has done well and focus on that, rather than make yourself look like an idiot by trashing one of the most reputable polling firms in the country and blaming your boss’s unpopularity on that mean old President Obama.

Benton’s most ludicrous statement was:

“On the first day of Republican Campaign Manager School, they teach us to ignore PPP polls. You see, PPP is a partisan Democrat polling firm, and they make their living giving the Democrat Party numbers they want to see.”

Jesse, can you give us information about the Republican Campaign Manager School? My Google search netted nothing but articles with your statement in it.  It would have been useful for campaign managers in the 2012 elections.

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