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Bluegrass Poll: McConnell up big in primary, virtual tie with Grimes

by Joe Arnold

WHAS11.com

Posted on May 16, 2014 at 7:00 PM

Updated Friday, May 16 at 10:08 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky (WHAS11)  -- Four days before Kentucky’s primary election, five term incumbent U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell leads first-time challenger Matt Bevin by twenty points, 55 percent to  35 percent among likely Republican voters in the WHAS11/Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll released Friday night.

55%  Mitch McConnell
35%  Matt Bevin
5%    Brad Copas
1%    Chris Payne
1%    Shawna Sterling
5%    Undecided

Asked of 605 likely primary voters
Margin of Sampling Error for this question = ± 4%

Political strategists told WHAS11 Friday that Bevin's 35 percent support in the poll is significant.

“His numbers are stronger than I think a lot of people are going to believe,” said Bob Gunnell, a veteran Democratic strategist with Boxcar Public Relations in Louisville.

Gunnell said the Republican poll numbers suggest the primary battle with Bevin has softened McConnell's support for the fall.  With the support of national tea party groups, Bevin has characterized McConnell as motivated by personal ambition rather than personal conviction to conservative principles.

Republican strategist Les Fugate says this poll is the first he's seen with Bevin as close as 20 points down.

“So the question will be, is this poll an outlier,” Fugate said Friday.  “Most (other independent polls) have it about a ten point larger difference.”

The poll was conducted May 14-16 by Survey USA, commissioned by WHAS-TV, WKYT-TV, the Louisville Courier-Journal and the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Click here to see all more results from the WHAS11/CJ Bluegrass Poll

Barring a Bevin upset, the headline in this pre-primary poll continues to be the tight general election race between the first term Secretary of State, Alison Lundergan Grimes, and the five term US Senate incumbent, Mcconnell. 

 Grimes leads McConnell by one percentage point in the WHAS11/Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll, 43 percent to 42 percent.

43%  Alison Lundergan Grimes
42%  Mitch McConnell
4%    Ed Marksberry
4%    David Patterson
7%    Undecided

Asked of 1475 likely voters
Margin of Sampling Error for this question = ± 2.6%

Both Independent candidate Ed Marksberry, a former Democrat, and Libertarian David Patterson garnered 4 percent.

Gunnell said the poll continues to reinforce a key message for Grimes to pitch to campaign donors, that this is a competitive race.

“If you see (a poll) that's winning, national Democrats are going to ring that bell across the country and so will she,” Gunnell said.

McConnell continues to suffer a favorability deficit as large as his lead in the primary; 49 percent of registered voters have an unfavorable opinion of him in our poll. Only 29 percent view him favorably.

Is your opinion of Mitch McConnell... favorable? Unfavorable? Neutral? Or, do you have no opinion one way or the other? 

29%    Favorable
49%    Unfavorable
18%    Neutral
4%      No Opinion
Asked of 1782 registered voters

Margin of Sampling Error for this question = ± 2.4%

Grimes' 35 percent favorability rating is up nine points from the Bluegrass Poll in February.

Is your opinion of Alison Lundergan Grimes ... favorable? Unfavorable? Neutral? Or, do you have no opinion one way or the other? 

35%    Favorable
27%    Unfavorable
25%    Neutral
13%    No Opinion

Asked of 1782 registered voters
Margin of Sampling Error for this question = ± 2.4%

Grimes’ unfavorability number remains the same, but with 25 percent of voters neutral on Grimes, and 13 percent more with no opinion of her, Republicans see an opportunity when looking at Kentuckian's low opinion levels of President Barack Obama.

Is your opinion of Barack Obama ... favorable? Unfavorable? Neutral? Or, do you have no opinion one way or the other?

29%    Favorable
57%    Unfavorable
11%    Neutral
3%     No Opinion
Asked of 1782 registered voters

Margin of Sampling Error for this question = ± 2.3%

 

More than half of Kentucky voters (57 percent) have an unfavorable opinion of President Obama. Only 29 percent have a favorable view of him, the same favorability as McConnell.

"Senator McConnell has had similar approval ratings in previous elections and has come out quite well," Fugate noted. "So, while it's something they're going to take a look at, they'll also be making sure that Alison Grimes is well defined in the race and making sure that voters know that she is going to be related to Barack Obama at the end of the day." 

Click here to see all more results from the WHAS11/CJ Bluegrass Poll

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