When I was reporting Monday’s story on the lack of Republican worry about a “Kennedy effect” on health care, I asked CNN for the breakdowns on what ended up being the final measure of Kennedy’s favorable/unfavorable ratings. They got me the numbers today, and they’re revealing. When Kennedy died, he was only narrowly popular with independents, Southerners, and Midwesterners. And he was still widely disliked by Republicans.
First, the partisan breakdown:
Kennedy died with a strong 64 percent of Republicans and 36 percent of independents holding an unfavorable opinion of him. That’s one reason Republicans outside of the Beltway did not scramble over one another to pay tribute.
Next, the regional breakdown:
Around two in five people in the Midwest and South held unfavorable opinions of Kennedy. Coincidentally, that’s where the bulk of the GOP’s potential 2010 gains would come from.