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PHOENIX — Newly elected Arizona Republican Jeff Flake is starting his six-year term in the U.S. Senate with what appears to be an uphill climb in public opinion.

The Phoenix-based Behavior Research Center says a statewide survey of registered voters found 18 percent of those surveyed rated his performance favorably and 26 percent unfavorably.

Other voters either rated Flake's performance as "fair" or didn't have an opinion.

The center says Republicans tended to rate Flake favorably while independents and Democrats generally rated Flake unfavorably.

The survey was based on telephone interviews conducted in early April. That was before Flake voted against a high-profile bill to expand background checks for gun buyers.

The poll's overall margin of error was plus or minus 5 percentage points.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

Associated Press,

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