With the mid-term elections now just one day away, the forecasts of an enthusiasm gap are about to be put to the test.
Polls and pundits indicate that Republicans are far more fired up to vote this year than Democrats and - as a result - Republicans are poised to net upwards of 70 seats in Congress (House and Senate combined). See below for a new poll released on Halloween (Paul up 55-40) that is especially scary for Jack Conway supporters. Even if those projections are accurate, it is unclear if the federal races will have any coattails effect on local races, such as the mayoral election in Louisville.
Democrats have a more experienced operation and a much better record of getting out the vote, especially in Jefferson County, where union activity has been especially strong in this year's election cycle.
U.S. Senate race - Kentucky
Both Republican Rand Paul and Democrat Jack Conway will spend much of Monday in the air, flying to media appearances across the state.
In fact, the candidates will appear at the same six airports in Paducah, Owensboro, Bowling Green, Hazard, Northern Kentucky and Lexington. If they stick to their respective schedules, Paul and Conway will miss each other by only 45 minutes in Lexington. Paul has a seventh stop not on Conway's itinerary, in Ashland.
As the Bowling Green Daily News reports, the candidates are reacting predictably to polls that show Paul up and Conway down:
Paul said those numbers reflect his perception of the race all along, but he attributed some of the recent widening of his lead to an advertisement by Conway that questioned aspects of Paul’s religious beliefs.
“I think that kind of personal attack really backfired on him,” Paul said. “The politics of personal destruction won’t be rewarded.”
If such poll results are a concern for the Conway campaign, however, the candidate isn’t showing it.
“Polls never had me up in the primary. I have a reputation as a closer, and this week as I’m out around Kentucky I can feel it closing,” Conway told the Daily News.
Despite Conway's "Aqua Buddha" ad appearing to backfire on him, at least one group supporting Conway is using robocalls to question Paul's faith.
Page One Kentucky has the text and audio of the phone call sponsored by the Kentucky Leadership Council, an independent expenditure group led by Col. Andrew Horne, a Louisville attorney who lost to John Yarmuth in the 2006 Congressional primary:
"As a young man, Rand Paul’s men’s club mocked Christians and Christ. The Baylor University president condemned him as rude, crude and grossly sacrilegious.
“Rand Paul said recently, he believes tax deductions for charitable donations are bad. And that President George Bush’s faith-based initiatives are quote, ‘a horrible mistake.’ "
Conway will have to overcome conventional wisdom to prevail.
The final pre-election poll of the Paul/Conway race comes from Public Policy Polling, and it appears to be the final nail in the coffin of the once promising Conway campaign:
The most amazing finding on this final poll is that Rand Paul is actually picking up more Obama voters (15%) than Conway is McCain voters (9%). That's the formula for a landslide.
Over the last month of the campaign this went from being a relatively competitive race to a not so competitive one. That didn't have a ton to do with Rand Paul- his favorability in early September was 45/40 and now it's 48/43, basically unchanged. The shift is more a reflection of Jack Conway's image with Kentucky voters being shattered in the closing days.
Republicans appear to be in no danger of losing their party’s open Senate seats in Kentucky, Missouri, New Hampshire and Ohio, though just last year it seemed Republicans would have difficulty keeping all of them.
Before the infamous ad, the Democratic candidate in the Kentucky Senate race was viewed negatively by 36 percent of voters, according to Public Policy Polling. Now, on the even of the election, that's up to 55 percent -- and Rand Paul "is headed for a blowout win."
Or, as Aqua Buddha might call it, a tsunami.
WHAS11's election night analysts, Republican Scott Jennings and Democrat Bob Gunnell also say the writing is on the wall, and Gunnell says Conway's chances are "slim:"