For possibly the first time in his career, Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell is trailing in a poll. Democrat Alison Grimes leads McConnell 45-44%, but the poll contains a boatload of bad news for Mitch.
The lead for Grimes is within the margin of error, but it represents a continuing trend for this race. McConnell led 45%-41% in April. McConnell and Grimes were tied in May, and Grimes has taken the lead in July. This election could be trending away from McConnell. The biggest problem for McConnell is that a majority in Kentucky do not think he deserves to be reelected. When asked, “After 30 years in the U.S. Senate, do you believe Republican Mitch McConnell deserves re-election, or not?” 54% of respondents said no, and only 38% said yes.
Another big problem for McConnell is that voters don’t approve of what he is running on. McConnell has championed entitlement reform, and cutting Social Security. Fifty two percent of those polled said cutting Social Security would make them less likely to support McConnell. Thirty three percent did not care, and 15% said that it would make them more likely to support McConnell. Mitch McConnell’s most insurmountable obstacle is that voters plain don’t like him. McConnell’s approval rating remains underwater. Only 40% of those surveyed approve of him, but 51% disapprove of the way he is doing his job. Mitch’s lack of likability is not surprising. In April PPP found that McConnell was America’s most unpopular senator.
McConnell is regarded as a master strategist, but his strategic skills have been absent on the Senate floor for the past few years. In contrast, Alison Lundergan Grimes rolled out a hard hitting, but wrapped in charisma, sugar, and family, campaign ad that struck at all of McConnell’s weaknesses. The ad was a warning shot that provided a hint of what McConnell has ahead of him in the general election.
The McConnell campaign tried to spin the bad into good, and appeal to paranoid Republicans by blaming the poll on the Obama/Soros conspiracy that is out to get Mitch. Both campaign reactions via WHAS 11, “George Soros and the Obama Allies are up to their same old tricks,” said McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton. “They have concocted another fictitious poll that has no basis in realty, held it for ten days, and released it at the perfect time on the news cycle to help their upstart liberal candidate. This poll has zero credibility and should be ignored out of hand.”
The problem for the McConnell campaign is that PPP was deemed the most accurate pollster of 2012. Not only are PPP’s polls good, they are also accurate. (This is why we use them at PoliticusUSA.)
The Grimes campaign reacted to the poll by reinforcing their message that it is time to ditch Mitch, “It’s no surprise that Kentucky voters have had enough of Mitch McConnell’s partisan gridlock,” said senior advisor Jonathan Hurst. “For thirty years, McConnell has been the embodiment of all that is wrong with Washington and has no problem turning his back on Kentucky’s middle class.”
It can’t be overstated how bad this news is for Mitch McConnell. There was not one shred of good information in the poll for him. McConnell has become the 2014 symbol for long term incumbency and what is wrong with Washington. The folks back home don’t like his policies. They don’t think he deserves reelection, and they don’t like him.
Mitch McConnell has a huge campaign war chest, and he isn’t about to roll over and play dead. McConnell will fight this campaign until the bitter end.
Grimes has her work cut out for her, but it looks like the goal of ditching Mitch is within striking distance.