Once regarded as the greatest deliberative body in the world, the U.S. Senate has devolved into a chamber defined more by ideological divisions than statesmanship and bi-partisan, good-faith debate. These changes have occurred steadily over decades and contributed to an erosion of public confidence. According to Gallup polling data, 75%-80% of Americans disapprove of the way Congress has handled its job in 2022 – compared to less than 50% throughout much of the 1970s and ‘80s.
While public sentiment towards Capitol Hill is overwhelmingly negative, Americans tend to judge their own senators with a greater degree of leniency. According to a 2022 survey conducted by public opinion research company Morning Consult, the vast majority of U.S. senators have a net-positive favorability rating. Still, for many, including several who are running for reelection this year, the margins are slim.
Using polling data from Morning Consult, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 50 most popular U.S. senators. Senators are ranked by their approval rating, and in the case of a tie, the senator with a lower disapproval rating ranks higher. Among the 50 most popular senators, approval ratings range from 48% to 62% – including 29 who have a favorable rating above 50%.
Among the senators on this list, 24 are Democratic, 24 are Republican and two are Independent.
Public approval of senators is subject to a wide range of factors, including policy positions, their state’s economic health, and even their personality. While earning the approval of their constituents is the most effective way for senators to remain in office, in areas where voter turnout is low, controversial and even unpopular lawmakers can still win elections. Here is a look at the worst corruption scandal in each state.
Elections for a given senate seat are held every six years, and this November, 34 senate seats are up for grabs – including 15 held by senators on this list. All but two senators on this list whose terms are up in 2023 – Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont (D) and Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama (R) – are running for reelection this year.
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