According to a new internal poll, Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes has a small lead over Sen. Mitch McConnell in Kentucky 43%-42%.
The poll, conducted for the Grimes campaign by the Melman Group, found that the Democrat has more strong support than McConnell (35%-30%). Grimes leads Independents by ten points (40%-30%), and she leads by nine points with voters who know both candidates (50%-41%). Despite millions of dollars in negative advertising from McConnell and outside groups that are supporting him, Grimes has maintained a net positive personal favorability rating of (+5). Her personal favorable rating is 41%-36%. McConnell’s personal favorable rating is a net (-5), 42%-47%.
Mitch McConnell’s negative job approval rating continues to drag him down. Sixty-one percent of Kentucky voters gave McConnell a negative job approval rating. Only 32% of those polled hold a positive view of the job that he has done in the Senate. Alison Grimes has a net (-1) job approval rating of 38%-39%. The three phrases most associated with Mitch McConnell in respondents’ minds were “opposes raising the minimum wage,” “has been in office too long”, and “supports tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.” The two phrase most associated with Grimes were, “will work to create good jobs,” and “will protect Social Security and Medicare.”
Lundergan Grimes holds advantages in personal likeability, job approval, and pocketbook issues. The Democrat is structurally in a good spot to win this election. The one dynamic that could hurt the Grimes campaign will be if they contest the campaign on McConnell’s terms. Mitch McConnell can’t run on his record. McConnell can’t run on what he has done for Kentucky. The thirty-year incumbent has retreated to the last refuge of all embattled campaigns. He is trying to turn off voters by turning the election into a mudslinging contest.
The Grimes campaign has to walk the line between answering McConnell’s barrage of negative attacks while laying out a positive vision for the future of Kentucky. If they tilt too far into negative territory, they will play into McConnell’s hands by turning off voters and hurting turnout. Voters like a positive message and Alison Lundergan Grimes is only candidate in the Kentucky Senate race with a positive appeal to voters.
The internal poll should be taken with a grain of salt because it was conducted for the campaign, but its numbers are much closer to other polls than the NBC/Marist poll released on Sunday that showed McConnell with an eight-point lead. Marist has a decades long history of Republican leaning polls, so it isn’t a surprise that their poll could be an outlier.
Alison Grimes has a lot going in her favor as 2014 election heads to the homestretch. The Kentucky Senate race and perhaps control of the US Senate will probably end up depending on which candidate gets their supporters out on Election Day. The unavoidable conclusion is that Mitch McConnell is not only vulnerable, but Democrats have a golden opportunity to win.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor, who is White House Press Pool, and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association