The Washington Times - April 30, 2013, 06:45AM

Five senators who voted against gun legislation earlier this month have all seen a drop in popularity post-vote, new numbers from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling show.

Thirty-two percent of Arizona voters approve of Sen. Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican, compared to 51 percent who disapprove; the net -19 split makes him the most unpopular sitting senator the firm has polled on.

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Mr. Flake told the Daily Caller that “if we believed PPP polls, I wouldn’t be here at all.”


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“The only accurate poll they’ll do is the one the week before the election, so they can do well in terms of how they’re rated,” he said. “But prior to that, take it with a grain of salt.” (The firm responded via Twitter by pointing out they had Mr. Flake up by 11 points last February.)


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In Alaska, meanwhile, the numbers for Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Democratic Sen. Mark Begich were also down. In February, Ms. Murkowski had a 54 percent approval rating, compared to 33 percent who disapproved; the new poll shows her at a 46 percent/41 percent split. Mr. Begich was at 49/39 in February and is now at 41/37.


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In Ohio, Republican Sen. Rob Portman’s numbers have dropped from a +10, 35/25 split in October to a -8, 26/34 split in April. In Nevada, GOP Sen. Dean Heller saw a slight dip, from 47/42 right before the 2012 election to 44/41 now.


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The measure to expand gun-purchase background checks to sales online and at gun shows, co-sponsored by Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, failed earlier this month to get the necessary 60 votes to ensure passage. Federally-licensed dealers are currently required to perform checks.


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“The background checks vote is a rare one that really is causing these senators trouble back home,” said Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling. “All five of these senators, as well as Kelly Ayotte, have seen their approval numbers decline in the wake of this vote. And the numbers make it clear that their position on Manchin/Toomey is a major factor causing the downward spiral.”


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PPP surveyed 1,166 Alaska voters, 600 Arizona voters, 500 Nevada voters, and 601 Ohio voters on April 25th and 26th. The margins of error are 2.9 percentage points for the Alaska survey, 4 percentage points for the Arizona survey, 4.4 percentage points for the Nevada survey, and 4 percentage points for the Ohio survey.


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