A year into his first term in Congress, Larry Kissell is doing just fine.
45% of his constituents approve of the job he's doing to 30% who disapprove. Those numbers are comparable to where PPP found Virginia Foxx and Patrick McHenry's approval ratings in 2008 when each won reelection by 16 points.
It's a long time until November but if Kissell had to stand before the voters today it looks like he'd win by a similar margin. He leads a generic Republican candidate 53-39 and leads his actual GOP opponents by 14-18 points.
Although Kissell has earned a lot of fire from the left for his health care vote most of his constituents are with him. 52% say they are opposed to the bill with 35% in support. Kissell's no vote appears to have insulated him from some of the ill will toward national Democrats in the district. Despite winning it in 2008 Barack Obama's approval rating now stands at a negative 47/50 there and Congressional Democrats get a 40/53 approval. Given that context Kissell is doing alright.
That's not to say there's no unhappiness with Kissell over his vote. His approval with Democrats is just 58%, well below Obama's 76%. But Kissell stands at 28% with Republicans, considerably better than Obama's 6%, and his 40/37 approval with independents is markedly better than Obama's 35/62. Kissell's votes that have rankled some of the party base have positioned him well for reelection overall, assuming he can get through the primary. We'll have numbers on that tomorrow.
None of the Republican candidates are very well known at this point, so the eventual party nominee may move closer to Kissell come the fall when they start gearing up on their spending. Tim D'Annunzio is the most prominent of the challengers but still has just 35% name recognition. He's followed by Harold Johnson at 31% and Lou Huddleston and Hal Jordan at 26%. In the head to heads Kissell leads Huddleston 55-37, D'Annunzio 54-38, Jordan 55-39, and Johnson 53-39.
Kissell's district is a second tier pick up opportunity for Republicans this year. If they win here it will probably be in a landslide large enough to hand them control of the House of Representatives. Obama won here, a huge contrast from most of the southern districts where the GOP has a great opportunity this year, and Kissell has shown the sort of independence from Congressional Democratic leadership that will play well in a district where there are three conservatives for every liberal. Beyond that none of the Republican candidates appear to be that strong. A lot could happen between now and November but for now Kissell is in a position many of his first term colleagues would trade for in a second.
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