Jonathan Chait

Walking In Mitch McConnell's Shoes

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To the outside world, Mitch McConnell's admitted strategy of total opposition to President Obama's agenda looks like the most conservative position he could possibly take. But, if you look at it from McConnell's position, his biggest worry is that Kentucky's Republican primary voters will take him for a squish because he didn't want to risk a Senate seat by nominating Rand Paul:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell backed the wrong horse in the Senate primary back home in Kentucky and now he's paying the price with state Republicans. A new PPP (D) poll out today shows McConnell's approval rating has fallen to a record low 34% in his home state.

Even worse for McConnell is that only 38% of voters surveyed said that they want McConnell to remain the head of his party's caucus in the Senate. Almost half -- 49% -- said they don't think McConnell should keep his job as Republican leader.

The slide in approval for McConnell was almost entirely the result of voters he upset when he backed state Attorney General Trey Grayson over the eventual nominee (and tea party favorite) Rand Paul in the Republican Senate primary. McConnell's support among Democrats and even moderate Republicans has stayed level for the past three months. But it's seen a precipitous decline among conservatives.

Bottom line: don't expect McConnell to start cutting deals anytime soon.

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