Poll: McConnell Trailing Democratic Opponent in Kentucky

Image: Poll: McConnell Trailing Democratic Opponent in Kentucky

Tuesday, 11 Feb 2014 09:25 AM

By Melissa Clyne

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Despite a recent poll showing Republican Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell trailing his Democratic opponent by four points, McConnell’s camp insists it's not worried, The Washington Times reports.

"We’re very comfortable about where this race stands and extremely confident that Sen.  McConnell will earn the votes of Kentuckians this fall," said McConnell spokeswoman Allison Moore. "The contrast between Mitch McConnell’s conservative accomplishments for Kentucky and [Kentucky Secretary of State] Alison Lundergan Grimes’s alliance with President Obama’s agenda of Obamacare and the war on coal will become very clear to everyone over the next nine months."

The Senate Minority Whip, who turns 72 on Feb. 20, has a reputation for being aggressive, pointed and outspoken.

At 35, Lundergan Grimes is less than half McConnell’s age, and has political gravitas of her own. The daughter of Jerry Lundergan, a former Kentucky Democratic chairman and state representative, Lundergan Grimes was a respected attorney before becoming Kentucky’s secretary of state in 2012.

The SurveyUSA poll, conducted on behalf of The Courier-Journal, WHAS-TV, the Lexington Herald-Leader and WKYT-TV in Lexington, shows Lundergan Grimes leading McConnell by a 46 percent to 42 percent margin. A Rasmussen poll released Feb. 3 had the two locked in a dead heat, according to Time magazine.

November is nine months away, the magazine noted, and McConnell remains the favorite.

"But there are distressing signs for the Republican leader. The new poll found that 60 percent of Kentuckians disapprove of the powerful five-term incumbent, compared to just 32 percent who approve of his performance in the Senate. That’s a shade worse than the ratings registered by President Barack Obama, who lost the state by 22 points in 2012."

Though McConnell is presenting a strong front, SurveyUSA's founder says the senator "will not coast to re-election."

"He will have to battle for every vote, and overcome some exceptionally negative approval favorability numbers," Jay Leve told The Courier-Journal.

In the primary, McConnell faces a challenge from Matt Bevin, who is bolstered by the tea party. Matt Hoskins, head of the Senate Conservative Fund, which has shelled out $1 million to advance Bevin’s campaign, said the challenger "has got a better shot at winning the general." But Time points out that the new poll has McConnell leading the primary by 26 points.

"McConnell has a huge war chest and a powerful set of Republican allies, which — combined with the state’s conservative bent — will make it difficult to oust him in November," Time writes.

"Grimes has been able to dodge the spotlight, with a light public schedule and few policy specifics," according to Time. "Over the next nine months, McConnell’s allies will attempt to tie her to Obama’s positions on healthcare and coal, which remain deeply unpopular in Kentucky."

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