The popular polling firm Survey USA does monthly head-checks of opinion from all 50 states—approval of Pres. Bush, approval of the 50 governors, and approval of the 100 senators. One might think the lousy recent record of the world's finest deliberative body would send the senators' numbers plunging. Not so.
Take Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens. You'd be forgiven for thinking he's a complete embarrassment, demanding useless pork projects for his state, throwing tantrums when he doesn't get it. But Stevens has been rewarded by his fellow Alaskans with massive popularity. His approval rating is 65%, making him the third most-liked Republican senator. The other king of pork, Robert Byrd, clocks in at 64% approval. Trent Lott, whose lust for government contracts in his post-Katrina state has earned the ire of the ineffective bloggers' group Porkbusters, has the same numbers. Both men are up for re-election this year, and neither is facing a serious challenge.
It's not a clear-cut pattern, but the senators who do the most looting of taxpayer funds, and the least principled policy-making, are getting the fattest thumbs-ups from the voters. The senators better-known for their causes than their earmarking—anti-UN crusader Norm Coleman (MN), anti-ANWR-drilling Maria Cantwell (WA), uterus-repossession advocate Rick Santorum—appear near the bottom of the hit list.