With Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) just having announced that he will not seek re-election in 2018, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s hold on his caucus may have just gotten even weaker, especially in light of a new poll that shows that the majority of Republicans are ready for a fresh face in the influential post.
A Harvard-Harris poll released Tuesday found that 56 of Republicans believe McConnell should resign as majority leader, The Hill reported. The Kentucky lawmaker has the worst approval rating of any politician listed in the poll, clocking in at a miserable 16 percent favorable and 52 percent unfavorable rating.
Meanwhile, the Republican base appears to be split along pro- and anti-McConnell lines, with just 53 percent of GOP voters saying they approve of the party’s performance, compared to 29 percent of all voters. On the other side of the aisle, 68 percent of Democratic voters approve of the job their party is doing, while 39 percent of all voters give a thumbs-up.
A new pro-Trump insurgency, as embodied by former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, may explain the growing rift inside of the GOP. Bannon has pledged to supplant all sitting Republicans – minus Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) – with grassroots-backed candidates in a groundswell movement that appears to have already impacted the political landscape in Alabama and Arizona.
Indeed, the Republican establishment may have move too far to the left for today’s Republican voter: 40 percent said that their leaders in Congress are more liberal than they are, while just 39 percent said that their leaders adequately represent their views. A whopping 76 percent believe that Congress is out of touch with their needs, while 68 percent blame GOP leaders for dividing the party.
“The Republican Party is at war with its traditional leadership and Trump and Bannon are winning in this unprecedented schism,” said Harvard-Harris Poll co-director Mark Penn. “The Republican elites appear broadly out of touch with the base of the party – it explains why Trump so easily beat all the establishment candidates in 2016.”