Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) said Wednesday that a Public Policy Polling survey that showed him losing support after his background check vote was designed to make him look unpopular, reversing what he said earlier in the week that the vote likely contributed to his sinking poll numbers.
"There was a famous PPP poll just a couple of days ago that -- the five Republicans who voted against this, you know, supposedly our poll number have dropped dramatically," Flake said on KJZZ radio in Arizona. "And I've no doubt they have because of the way the poll is structured."
Flake explained: "It said, I believe, 'Do you believe that Jeff Flake voted against background checks?' Now somebody who got that poll could just as easily assume that I voted to repeal current background checks. And so background checks are popular, but I believe that people recognize that universal background checks, that's a little more difficult thing to define."
Flake repeated that the poll had mischaracterized his vote later in the interview.
"You may have a situation where, you know, people put a poll out or characterize legislation in a way that makes you unpopular for a while," he said. "But I think in the end, people understand that you're there, you read the legislation, you try to make the situation better."
In a Facebook post Tuesday, Flake acknowledged the poll's findings.
"Now, notwithstanding the polling firm's leftist bent, I would assume that my poll numbers have indeed taken a southerly turn since my vote against the Manchin-Toomey background check proposal," he said. "It was a popular amendment, and I voted against it."
Here's the exact language of the PPP poll: "Does Jeff Flake's vote against requiring background checks make you more or less likely to support him for re-election, or does it not make a difference?"
Nineteen percent of respondents answered "more likely," 52 percent said "less likely" and 24 percent said "no difference."