Favorability ratings for former Arizona Senator John McCain dropped from 48% to 40% since September
Last week, President Donald Trump renewed his attacks on Senator John McCain, doing so at rallies and on his Twitter account. Just after the Senator’s memorial service last summer, twice as many Americans had a favorable than unfavorable opinion of McCain, according to Economist/YouGov data. But in the last six months, Republicans have shifted their opinion of the former GOP Senator, becoming more negative, and putting them more in agreement with the President.
In September, just after the memorial service for McCain, Republicans were narrowly favorable about him. Now, unfavorable evaluations outnumber favorable ones. Democratic opinions have changed little since September.
Those Republicans who had heard a lot about the President’s comments criticizing John McCain were particularly negative about the former Senator: unfavorable opinions outnumbered favorable ones in this group by nearly two to one, 61% to 32%.
On a different question, Republicans were less negative about McCain. Both Republicans and Democrats agree that Senator McCain is a hero, though the number of Republicans who think that has dropped 16 points in the last six months. In September, Republicans believed McCain was a hero by more than two to one (56% to 25%). While they still call him a hero, it is by a much narrower margin, 42% to 33%. Democrats have hardly changed in that period.
The President himself once called McCain a hero in a tweet a few days before the Arizona Senator’s negative vote on repealing the Affordable Care Act. He wrote on July 25, 2017: “So great that John McCain is coming back to vote. Brave - American hero! Thank you John.”
Democrats may like McCain more because he opposed the President on some critical issues; his vote doomed the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, an action Democrats overwhelmingly approve of and Republicans overwhelmingly don’t. There are other GOP-connected individuals for whom the same phenomenon occurs: Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, appointed by a Republican President, has received better assessments from Democrats than Republicans since his 2012 vote affirming the constitutionality of Obamacare. In this poll, that is also the case for former Ohio Governor John Kasich, who was the last GOP competitor to Donald Trump in the 2016 primaries. Democrats like Kasich 33% to 26%; Republicans are nearly twice as likely to view him unfavorably as favorably (43% to 23%).
Americans, overall, don’t like the President’s posthumous attacks on McCain, and by a better than two to one margin. Republicans are split down the middle. Among them, there is a gender divide. Male Republicans find the attacks appropriate, while GOP women say they are inappropriate.
By 49% to 31%, Republicans find the President’s overall use of Twitter appropriate (Americans overall divide 27% to 58%, most calling them inappropriate). Again, there is a GOP gender gap: Republican women are nine points less likely than GOP men to describe the President’s use of Twitter as appropriate.