-Mitch McConnell's not doing very well right now, either nationally or on the home front. On our national poll for Daily Kos this week, McConnell's approval rating was a putrid 16/44 spread. McConnell being unpopular nationally is not a new development, but his numbers with Republicans were pretty striking--only 22% of them approve of him, to 35% disapproving. The public obviously doesn't get a voice in Senate leadership votes, and for McConnell that's a good thing, because Jim DeMint would probably become the new minority leader in about 2 seconds.
In Kentucky, Republicans at least like McConnell. But no one else does. His approval rating on the home front is 37%, with 50% of voters disapproving of him. PPP's polled on 87 sitting Senators, and only 4 of them are more unpopular than him. He's at 40/53 with independents, and Democrats (69%) are more unified in their disapproval of him than Republicans (64%) are in their approval. If McConnell runs again next time, he could really be in trouble, particularly if Barack Obama is defeated next year and voters find themselves as unhappy with their new Republican President in 2014 as they were with their new Democratic President in 2010.
-McConnell's lack of popularity leaves Rand Paul as the more popular member of the state's Senate delegation, not that Paul has much to write home about either. Voters are closely divided on his job performance, with 42% approving and 44% disapproving. His numbers are superior to McConnell's with Republicans (71% approval, compared to 64%), Democrats (23% approval, as opposed to 20%), and independents (41% approval, compared to 40%).
-Looking for a reason why Paul's numbers are less than stellar? It could be the Tea Party's lack of popularity in the state. Only 40% of voters have a favorable opinion of it, to 46% with an unfavorable one. That includes independents splitting against it by a 28/39 margin. Paul's huge victory in the Republican Senate primary last year was one of the first big electoral victories for the Tea Party movement, so the fact that voters in the state now have a dim view of it is pretty symbolic of the decline in appeal it's endured over the course of 2011 nationally.
-Kentucky is a good example of two things as it relates to rights for same-sex couples: a majority of voters think they should deserve legal recognition. That's somewhat remarkable in a very conservative state. At the same time, a strong majority of voters are also opposed to appending the 'marriage' label to those relationships. When you ask Kentuckians their position on gay marriage, 62% think it should be illegal, to only 26% who believe it should be legal. Majorities across party lines are opposed to gay marriage--81% of Republicans and 53% of Democrats--with a plurality of independents against it as well.
When you throw the option of civil unions into the equation, though, it's a different story. 51% of voters support some form of legal recongition for gay couples, with only 46% completely opposed. The 51% breaks down 21% for full marriage rights and another 30% for civil unions. What's particularly interesting on those numbers is that independents (63%) are actually stronger in their support of rights for same-sex couples than Democrats (56%) are. That's a trend we've seen in some other states too. Independent voters just aren't all that hung up on this issue.
-Finally we looked at Kentucky's favorite MLB and NFL teams. On the baseball front it's no contest. 36% of voters in the state pick the Reds with only the Cardinals at 10% also hitting double digits. After that it's 8% for the Braves, 7% for the Yankees, 6% each for the Red Sox and Cubs, 2% for the Indians, and 1% for the Pirates. It's a lot more competitive on the football front. There the Colts just barely edge the Bengals 16-15. The Titans win the bronze at 9% followed by the Steelers and Cowboys at 8%, Packers at 7%, Bears at 6% and Rams at 1%.
Full results here