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11 Of 12 Vulnerable Senators Seeking 2018 Re-Election Have Declining Approval Ratings

The prospect of another term isn’t looking like such a sure thing for these 12 senators who will seek reelection in 2018.


The prospect of another term isn’t looking like such a sure thing for 12 senators seeking reelection in 2018. Ten Democrats and one Republican have declining net approval ratings that show their constituents less favorably disposed toward them now than at the start of the 115th Congress in January of last year.

One “vulnerable” Democrat, Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, has remained stagnant at 9 percent net approval. That’s according to the new Morning Consult Senator Approval Rankings for the fourth quarter of 2017.

The data doesn’t look good for the 10 Democratic incumbents seeking another term in states that Donald Trump took in the 2016 election. Nine are on the list of senators who have seen their net approval ratings drop since the start of 2017.

More recognizable names among the 12 senators include Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who lost a lot of trust in the Garden State after dealing with federal corruption charges that ended in mistrial (there will be a retrial). In the fourth quarter of 2017, 29 percent of New Jersey voters approved of Menendez, while 45 percent disapproved, giving him the lowest net approval rating, negative 16 percent, of any of the “vulnerable” senators on Morning Consult’s list.

Thirty-two percent of New Jersey Democrats disapproved of Menendez in the last quarter of 2017, so he could face a challenge in the primaries, Morning Consult predicted.

Also worth highlighting is Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.). His net approval “fell 18 percentage points since the first quarter, the most among Democrats who represent states President Donald Trump won in 2016,” according to Morning Consult.

The lone Republican on the list, Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), is holding on to a two-point net approval. He’s lost 9 points of net approval in his state, which presidential candidate Hillary Clinton won in 2016.

All of this happened against a bleak backdrop for senators. Average net approval rating for senators of any party dropped 8 points, from 22 percent to 14 percent, from the first to last quarters of 2017. Senators on the list whose 2018 bids seem safest right now include Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) with a 17-point net approval rating, Sherrod Brown (D-OH) with an 18-point net approval rating, and Bill Nelson (D-FL) with a 25-point net approval rating.

Other senators, like Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), don’t have as much margin. Both senators have the same amount of disapproving voters as approving as of this last 2017 quarter.