Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's popularity is taking a dive due to the government shutdown, according to a new Gallup survey released Thursday.
The new figures comes as McConnell's GOP primary challenger Matt Bevin is vying to gain the support of a key political organization in Northern Kentucky this week.
Overall, Gallup finds McConnell's net approvals are down by 12 percentage points since Congress failed pass a spending bill to keep federal services and programs running.
The Republican congressional leaders, Boehner and McConnell, appear to have taken a slightly larger hit from the shutdown than the Democratic congressional leaders Reid and Pelosi, as well as President Obama, given slightly larger declines in the Republicans' net favorables.
Republicans and Democrats don't agree on much, but both groups now view Republican leaders Boehner and McConnell significantly more negatively than before the shutdown. Their net favorable ratings have declined between 13 and 19 points among the party groups.
Save House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, all of the major leaders in Washington are suffering from poor approval ratings as the shutdown continues.
Among GOP voters, however, McConnell's net favorable rating dropped by 13 percent. That may explain the timeliness of a new radio ad released across Kentucky by the senator's re-election campaign Thursday afternoon blaming Democrats for the extended shutdown.
Reports indicate McConnell was against the idea of using a shutdown to dismantle the president's health care law due to the possible backlash from the American public.
This rationale seems to be lost on the grassroots as more conservative activists are speaking out against McConnell publicly.
Earlier this week, for instance, radio show host Glenn Beck ripped McConnell over rumors that he “dressed down” Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas' strategy. It's a rift that a local Republican Party in Kentucky says is party of their reason for considering an endorsement of Bevin.
“That divide is related to this and speaking to that issue directly, I think de-funding (Obamacare) is the way to go,” says Rick Brueggemann, chair of the Boone County Republican Party.
“There may be a motion from what I hear. I don't know how it will play out. It all depends,” he says. “There is a strong Tea Party element in Northern Kentucky and expressed sentiment that is largely dissatisfied with many of (Sen. McConnell's) votes.”
Brueggermann is against endorsing either candidate officially, but says a motion to support Bevin stems from the state party consistently backing “establishment” candidates over “liberty” or Tea Party contenders.
Boone County has the fourth highest number of registered Republican voters in the state and is considered a Tea Party stronghold.
Last year, the county voted for Congressman Thomas Massie in the 2012 primary and favored Tea Party-backed gubernatorial candidate Phil Moffett over former state Sen. David Williams in the 2011 primary contest.
Republican Party bylaws allow for local organizations at the county level to endorse in the primary, which other state GOP leaders are encouraging against.
“One thing is always true. There will be a group of people in your county that feel excluded and won't think it is proper,” says Kentucky Republican Party Chairman Steve Robertson. “In 2010, the state party did not make any endorsements in the U.S. Senate primary, and my hope is we aren't making any endorsements in the 2014 primary. It's just not something that tends to bring people together.”