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, all but a handful of U.S. senators have a net-positive favorability rating. Still, most senators also have approval ratings below 50%.
Using polling data from Morning Consult, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 50 least popular U.S. senators. Senators are ranked by their approval rating, and in the case of a tie, the senator with a higher disapproval rating ranks higher. Among the 50 least popular senators, approval ratings range from 47% to 33% – and six of them have underwater approval ratings. Among the senators on this list 24 are Democratic and 26 are Republican.
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 19 held by senators on this list. All but four senators on this list whose terms are up in 2023 – Republican Sens. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Roy Blunt of Missouri, and Rob Portman of Ohio – are running for reelection this year.
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