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Amy Klobuchar: Steady as She Goes

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The latest U.S. Senate approval numbers released by SurveyUSA for the month of March find Minnesota DFLer Amy Klobuchar with the 4th highest rating of the 27 Senators tracked by the polling organization.

But that's not the headline.

What is noteworthy about these March numbers is how they continue to demonstrate Klobuchar's comparatively unmovable job rating statewide - either up or down.

Klobuchar's numbers are so flat they suggest the state's lone U.S. Senator is both succeeding at sustaining the support of those Minnesotans who voted her into office in 2006, and failing to convert any of those who did not.

Klobuchar won 58.1 percent of the vote against Republican Mark Kennedy in 2006. SurveyUSA's March numbers find Klobuchar with an approval rating of 59 percent.

Of the Senators representing the 14 states tracked by SurveyUSA, Klobuchar trails only longtime D.C. fixtures Republican Charles Grassley of Iowa (at 68 percent) and Democrat Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts (67 percent), and newly-elected Democratic Senator Mark Warner of Virginia (66 percent).

Klobuchar's static ratings are something to behold for political observers. Since January 2008, Klobuchar's monthly approval rating has endured the least variation of any of the 23 U.S. Senators in office tracked by SurveyUSA during this span. Along with Democrat Patty Murray of Washington, Klobuchar's approval rating has spanned a range of just 5 percentage points - from a low of 58 percent in April 2008 to a high of 63 percent in December 2008. The average Senator experienced a high-low range of more than double this amount, at 10.4 points.

Additionally, Klobuchar's nadir during this 15-month span of 58 percent is the 2nd highest trough for any of these Senators, behind only Grassley (at 63 percent).

Since January 2009, only two Senators tracked by SurveyUSA have held their approval rating better than Klobuchar, who has lost just 1 point of support during this span: Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell (+1) and Virginia's Jim Webb (even).

By contrast, Klobuchar's Democratic colleagues next door in Wisconsin have each experienced a double-digit decline in support since Barack Obama's inauguration. Herb Kohl's numbers have fallen from 64 percent in January to a five-year low of 50 percent in March. Russ Feingold's approval rating has fallen 10 points from 61 percent in January to 51 percent in March.

Several other Democrats have also experienced notable dips in approval ratings, as the Party took the lead in passing controversial federal stimulus legislation that lacked bipartisan support in Congress. Ted Kennedy has lost 9 points since January and Oregon's Ron Wyden and Massachusetts' John Kerry each have lost 7 points in constituency support during the past two months.

Klobuchar has perhaps enjoyed greater success statewide in maintaining her support than some of her colleagues, particularly among independents, by seeming comparatively non-political in contrast to her past and (probable) future Gopher State colleagues, Norm Coleman and Al Franken. As Coleman and Franken fought through a brutal (and lengthy) 2008 U.S. Senate election, recount, and trial, Klobuchar has largely appeared above the fray and with her nose to the grindstone.

But Senator Klobuchar has of late inserted herself more into the U.S. Senate election process, commenting publicly on the doubling of her caseload of constituency services, as the Gopher State enters its fourth month with only one Senator.

To keep her (comparatively) apolitical image intact, Klobuchar must carefully weigh her words in support of seating fellow DFLer Al Franken, should he emerge the victor after the 3-judge trial court issues their ruling in the coming weeks. Coleman has vowed to appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Or perhaps all of this has less to do with Klobuchar herself, and more to do with Minnesotans, who continue to also give high marks to President Barack Obama and Governor Tim Pawlenty.

Perhaps Minnesotans simply like to like.

Range in U.S. Senatorial Approval Rating, January 2008 - March 2009

State
Senator
High
Low
Difference
Minnesota
Amy Klobuchar
63
58
5
Washington
Patty Murray
57
52
5
Virginia
Jim Webb
52
46
6
Washington
Maria Cantwell
56
50
6
Iowa
Charles Grassley
71
63
8
Kansas
Sam Brownback
56
48
8
Missouri
Kit Bond
59
51
8
Alabama
Jeff Sessions
64
55
9
New York
Chuck Schumer
63
54
9
Oregon
Ron Wyden
62
53
9
Alabama
Richard Shelby
64
54
10
California
Diane Fienstein
57
47
10
Iowa
Tom Harkin
63
53
10
Kentucky
Jim Bunning
49
39
10
Missouri
Claire McCaskill
54
44
10
New Mexico
Jeff Bingaman
64
54
10
Kansas
Pat Roberts
61
49
12
Wisconsin
Russ Feingold
61
48
13
California
Barbara Boxer
55
41
14
Wisconsin
Herb Kohl
64
50
14
Kentucky
Mitch McConnell
57
40
17
Massachusetts
John Kerry
61
44
17
Massachusetts
Ted Kennedy
76
56
20
 
Average
60.3
50.0
10.4
Source: SurveyUSA 14-state tracking data compiled by Smart Politics.

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Previous post: Is Minnesota the Most Democratic-Friendly State in the Midwest?
Next post: Upper Midwestern States Bearing the Brunt of Rising Unemployment

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