Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer outside the U.S. Capitol on July 29, 2020. (Brendan Smialowski-Pool/Getty Images)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer outside the U.S. Capitol on July 29, 2020. (Brendan Smialowski-Pool/Getty Images)

As the Senate holds confirmation hearings for Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court, voters express more negative than positive views of the chamber’s top leaders, Republican Mitch McConnell and Democrat Chuck Schumer.

Few voters feel ‘warmly’ toward McConnell, Schumer

In a new survey, fewer than a quarter of registered voters express “warm” or positive views of McConnell, the Senate majority leader. When asked to rate the two senators on a “feeling thermometer” – in which 100 represents the warmest rating and 0 the coldest – 23% of voters say they feel very or somewhat warmly toward McConnell. Just 13% give him a very warm rating of 76 or more on the scale.

Pew Research Center conducted this study to understand U.S. registered voters’ views of the two major parties’ respective Senate leaders, Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer. For this analysis, we conducted a survey of 11,929 U.S. adults, including 10,543 registered voters, between Sept. 30 and Oct. 5, 2020.

Everyone who took part is a member of the Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel that is recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses. This way nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories. Read more about the ATP’s methodology.

Here are the questions used for this report, along with responses, and its methodology.

A majority of voters (56%) say they have cold feelings toward McConnell, with nearly half (48%) saying they feel very coldly, offering him a rating of 0-24 on the thermometer, according to the Sept. 30-Oct. 5 survey of 11,929 adults, including 10,543 registered voters.

Schumer’s ratings are only somewhat less negative than McConnell’s. While about half (51%) have cold feelings for the Senate minority leader, only about half as many have warm feelings (25%).

Both McConnell and Schumer draw positive ratings from members of their own parties. Still, fewer than half of Republican and Republican-leaning independent voters (46%) say they have warm feelings toward McConnell, while about a quarter rate him coldly (26%) and 28% offer a neutral score of 50 on the thermometer. Schumer’s ratings among Democrats and Democratic leaners are similar: 46% warm, 26% cold, 27% neutral.

The ratings for both Senate leaders are more positive among the most ideological members of their parties. A 56% majority of conservative Republican voters view McConnell warmly, compared with just 20% of moderate and liberal Republicans. Schumer is much more popular among liberal Democrats (60% of whom give him a warm rating) than among his party’s conservative and moderate voters (33%).

Most striking of all may be the negative ratings that both Senate leaders – and especially McConnell – receive from voters in the opposing party, particularly those who are strongly ideological. McConnell gets warm ratings from just 2% of Democratic voters, while 77% say they have very cold feelings toward him. And among liberal Democrats, 89% feel very coldly toward him.

Schumer’s ratings among Republicans are less intensely negative. Still, a large majority of Republicans (69%) feel very coldly toward Schumer, including 78% of conservative Republicans.

McConnell, Schumer get almost no positive ratings from voters in opposing party

Note: Here are the questions used for this report, along with responses, and its methodology.

Jocelyn Kiley  is an associate director of research at Pew Research Center.