The Least Popular Senator in America

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
May 2 2013 10:24 AM

Jeff Flake Isn't Done With Guns

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) talks to a reporter at the end of a news conference on March 6, 2013 in Washington, DC.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

PHOENIX — In between interviews with immigration restrictionists and before heading to the U.S.-Mexico border, I stopped by the local office of newly elected Sen. Jeff Flake—a proud Gang of Eight member. A Public Policy Polling survey released this week put Flake's approval rating at 37 percent, making him the "least popular senator in America." Driving around town, I heard local news mention this again and again.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

"Notwithstanding the polling firm's leftist bent," Flake wrote on Facebook after the numbers came out, "I would assume that my poll numbers have indeed taken a southerly turn since my vote against the Manchin-Toomey background check proposal. It was a popular amendment, and I voted against it."


I mostly talked to Flake about immigration (story coming later today), but I asked him about the poll, too. Did his immigration stance have anything to do with the slide?

"I don't think so," said Flake. "If you look at that poll, the relevant question implied that I'm against background checks. A reasonable person could infer, from that question, that I voted to repeal current background checks. And breaking news: Democratic-leaning firm says Republican is unpopular!"*

But do Democrats still consider him reachable? Had Joe Manchin reached out to him about another gun vote?

"Joe has—not in specifics, but I've said all along we need to strengthen the background check system, particularly when it comes to the mentally ill," said Flake. "The problem with Manchin-Toomey, in my view, was it took the definition of commercial transaction as basically anything touching the Internet. That's how people communicate! You send a text, you send an email to five buddies asking whether they want to buy your gun. That's a commercial sale? That's far too broad. They reached out. I have no idea whether the Democrats will bring it back, but I've said all along there are things we need to fix, particularly with the mentally ill, and the Graham-Begich-Pryor bill with definition of mental health, making it easier for states to move on that, making it easier for the federal government to restrict things to those adjudicated mentally ill. I think we need to revist that."

* Side note: PPP correctly predicted the late momentum that won the 2012 election for Flake.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics



Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?


Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
Dear Prudence
Oct. 21 2014 9:18 AM Oh, Boy Prudie counsels a letter writer whose sister dresses her 4-year-old son in pink tutus.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 10:10 AM Where Do I Start With Sleater-Kinney?
Future Tense
Oct. 21 2014 9:39 AM The International-Student Revolving Door Foreign students shouldn’t have to prove they’ll go home after graduating to get a visa.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 21 2014 7:00 AM Watch the Moon Eat the Sun: The Partial Solar Eclipse on Thursday, Oct. 23
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.