Lisa Murkowski Experiences a Rarity for Senators: A Mid-Campaign Approval Bump

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Sen. Lisa Murkowski is experiencing a rarity at home compared to most other senators: an improved job approval rating.

According to Morning Consult Political Intelligence data, the Alaska Republican, facing a fierce primary challenge over her vote to convict former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial, has seen her popularity improve more than almost any other senator throughout Joe Biden’s presidency.

Murkowski’s improvement raises her approval rating to a level similar to many of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents facing re-election this year, none of whom made the list of America’s 10 most popular senators.

Murkowski’s approval rating in Alaska
According to the latest quarterly data from responses collected April 1-June 30, 2022, 46% of Alaska voters approve and 39% disapprove of Murkowski’s job performance, placing her net approval rating — the share who approve minus the share who disapprove — above water for the first time since Biden took office.

As she faces a list of candidates that includes Kelly Tshibaka, a Trump-backed former Alaska Department of Administration commissioner, in a complicated top-four Aug. 16 primary and ranked-choice general election, Murkowski is popular with Democrats while independents are almost evenly divided.

Republicans in Alaska remain slightly more likely to disapprove (46%) than approve (41%) of Murkowski’s job performance. But the spread between those two figures has narrowed dramatically since the first quarter of 2021, when, after her vote to convict Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection, 76% of her party’s voters held negative views, and just 20% held positive ones.

The size of improvement to Murkowski’s net approval rating over Biden’s presidency — up 22 percentage points — is eclipsed only by the 27-point boost that conservative Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who has almost single-handedly blocked much of Biden’s progressive agenda, has seen over that time frame.

Driven by a 61% approval rating from Republicans and 50% backing among independents, 54% of West Virginia voters approve of Manchin’s job performance, and 38% disapprove, only slightly weaker than his standing in the first quarter of 2022. But a modest decline in support for Manchin among Republicans wasn’t counterbalanced by a slight improvement among Democrats, and it was enough to pull him just outside the list of America’s 10 most popular senators.