Light Imprint

Sometimes you’ll be reading through a political poll, and something jumps out at you that you’d normally pass right by. That happened to me today in reading PPP’s summary of a new survey of North Carolina:

Richard Burr continues to be one of the most low profile Senators in the country in his home state- 32% of voters approve of him and 30% disapprove, but the largest chunk of voters at 38% doesn’t have an opinion about him either way.

Now that can’t be attributable to the kind of low name identification relative political newcomers typically have. Burr has been in the U.S. Senate for eight years now, and has run two statewide campaigns. Before that he served for a decade in the U.S. House. He’s also ranking Republican on the Veterans Affairs Committee, a post that you’d figure would provide plenty of opportunities for high visibility in a state like North Carolina, which has a sizable military retiree population and a couple of big bases.

Yet a plurality of North Carolinians have no particular opinion of the man. His Wikipedia page says: “As Senator, Burr has had a non-controversial tenure so far, espousing most of the positions held by the vast majority of his fellow Republicans.” It also indicated he considered running for Whip among Senate Republicans but decided against the big; maybe it would have drawn too much attention to him.

For all I know, Burr has found the secret to Senate longevity: don’t leave too much of an impression and lull voters into bored complacency. Wikipedia also reports he is distantly related to the third Vice President of the United States, Aaron Burr. Now there was a pol who knew how to court controversy, from allegedly trying to rob Thomas Jefferson of the presidency to killing Alexander Hamilton in a duel to being placed on trial for treason. He was even rumored to have illegitimately fathered future president Martin Van Buren. Maybe that was enough controversy for one family tree.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.