The Washington Times - February 20, 2013, 03:16PM

Chuck Hagel’s unfavorability ratings jumped in a new poll released Wednesday, even though President Obama’s nominee for defense secretary seems likely to be confirmed by the Senate next week.

A national survey by the Pew Research Center found that 28 percent of respondents have an unfavorable view of Mr. Hagel. That’s up from 17 percent a month ago, shortly after the president nominated the former Nebraska senator.

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The Pew poll found that 22 percent of adults have a favorable opinion of Mr. Hagel, while 50 percent expressed no opinion.

Although Mr. Hagel is a Republican, more than twice as many Republicans view him unfavorably as favorably, 36 percent to 15 percent. Among Democrats, 31 percent view him favorably and 23 percent unfavorably.

Some Republican senators have been holding up Mr. Hagel’s nomination, citing concerns about his past views on Israel and other matters. But two key GOP senators, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John McCain of Arizona, said Sunday they would not hold up Mr. Hagel’s nomination when the Senate returns from its recess next week.

Anti-Hagel groups have been calling on Mr. Obama to reconsider the nomination, but the president has said he has full confidence in Mr. Hagel to replace outgoing Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta.