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Sinema’s Approval Rating Plummets Among Democrats as She Allies With Lobbyists

The senator’s approval rating among Democrats, which was 67 percent earlier this year, has dropped to 46 percent.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema walks through the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on September 30, 2021.

According to new polling from Morning Consult, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s (D-Arizona) approval ratings have plummeted among Democrats in her state over the course of this year. The senator — whose relationship with conservative lobbyists is well-documented — has made headlines in recent weeks for being one of the key holdouts on the Democrats’ agenda in Congress.

The poll of over 8,000 registered voters in Arizona found that only 46 percent of Democrats approved of Sinema’s job performance in July and September. This number is down 21 percent from early in 2021, when 67 percent of Democrats approved of her performance. The dip among Democrats has driven a six percent decrease in her approval from all voters, from 48 percent to 42 percent approval overall.

While Sinema’s approval has dropped precipitously among Democrats and independents, it has risen among Republicans. While only 34 percent of Republicans expressed approval for Sinema in early 2021, 43 percent of Republican voters approved of her performance in the third quarter of the year. Her approval rating among Republicans is now almost evenly split, with 45 percent of those polled disapproving of her performance.

The data suggests that Sinema can’t rely on Democratic support in her state if her approval ratings remain steady or drop before she’s up for reelection in 2024. While 28 percent of Democrats said that they “strongly” approved of Sinema earlier this year, only 14 percent now say the same thing.

Though the shift has been less drastic, Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-West Virginia) approval rating is trending in a similar direction. In the first quarter of 2021, 59 percent of Democrats in West Virginia approved of Manchin’s job performance — now, only 48 percent approve. Among Republicans, his approval rating has jumped seven points, from 37 to 44 percent. His overall approval has remained relatively steady, going from 42 percent to 41 percent over the course of the year.

The data suggests that Sinema and Manchin’s conservative standpoints are not popular with Democratic voters — and by cozying up to right-wing lobbyists and obstructing popular policy proposals, they’re not doing themselves any favors among the people who would ostensibly support them in their own states.

As they continue their campaign to water down the Democratic agenda in Congress, both Manchin and Sinema have flaunted their ties to deep-pocketed lobbyists representing moneyed, conservative and climate-denying interests. Recently, Manchin has stonewalled on negotiations for the popular Build Back Better bill, concealing his demands for the bill from the public while parroting talking points from conservative lobbyists, who stand to benefit from his obstruction of the bill.

Last week, during a critical time for negotiations on the reconciliation bill, Sinema held a fundraiser with conservative lobbyists, who donated thousands of dollars to support her campaign — despite the fact that she won’t be up for reelection for years. Her ties to corporations and the wealthy are deep: one of Sinema’s former aides is now a JPMorgan Chase lobbyist fighting against tax hikes that Sinema also opposes.

Sinema and Manchin have been partners in obstruction throughout the year, first emerging as staunch supporters of the filibuster, even as their Democratic colleagues made calls for filibuster reform or abolition.

Recently, activists followed Sinema into the bathroom at Arizona State University (ASU) in a desperate attempt to appeal to her on her reconciliation bill obstruction. Activists have described having trouble reaching the senator to discuss any issues with her at all, and have pointed out that she hasn’t held a town hall in three years. When it comes to lobbyists, however, Sinema’s door is always open.

Sinema doesn’t have the support of her own Democratic Party back home either. Arizona Democrats recently threatened Sinema with a vote of no confidence if she continued to subvert Democratic interests, and former supporters who helped elect her to the Senate in 2018 are now looking to primary her in 2024.

The Arizona senator appears unphased, however. After activists tried to get her attention at ASU, Sinema’s communications team told The Daily Beast: “We are not dignifying this behavior with a response.”

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