Rand Paul appears to be on the verge of closing the deal with Kentucky voters in his U.S. Senate race against Democratic challenger Jack Conway, according to a new poll showing him opening a 13-point lead. A second poll by Fox News also released Tuesday shows Paul leading by 7 points. Both surveys were conducted before Monday night's debate, which most observers said favored Paul.
Public Policy Polling speculates that Conway's recent TV ad, which questioned Paul's Christian faith and alleged that Paul paid homage to a bizarre "Aqua Buddha" deity as a prank during his college days, may have torpedoed his chances of winning.
Fifty-six percent of voters said they found the ad inappropriate, including 68 percent of independents. Even 41 percent of Democrats thought the ad was in bad taste.
That PPP survey, which was released Tuesday, indicates Conway has stumbled badly. He now trails Paul 53 to 40 percent — a lead the pollster described as "likely insurmountable."
A Fox News poll Tuesday also showed Paul pulling ahead, but by a lesser margin.
Conducted by Pulse Opinion Research on Oct. 23, the survey of 1,000 likely voters showed Paul ahead by 7 points, 50 to 43 percent.
Forty-eight percent of voters viewed Paul favorably, compared with only 38 percent who had a favorable opinion of Conway. Another big millstone for Conway: Just 35 percent of Kentucky voters liked President Barack Obama's performance in office.
One potential bright spot for Conway: 42 percent of Kentucky voters describe themselves as concerned that Paul may to too extreme.
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