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Beshear coasting to victory, poll shows

by WHAS11


Posted on November 2, 2011 at 4:00 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 2 at 5:27 PM

(WHAS11) -- With less than one week to go until Kentucky's gubernatorial election, Democrat incumbent Steve Beshear appears to be coasting toward an easy victory.

WHAS11/Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll
Kentucky Governor's race
576 Likely Voters

Steve Beshear (D)        54%
David Williams (R)        29%
Gatewood Galbraith (I)   9%
Undecided                        8%
Margin of error +/- 4.2%

Beshear leads by 25 points in the final WHAS11/Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll before the election.  The margin is six points closer than one month ago and the 29 percent support for David Williams is his biggest number yet, but - overall -  this contest has shown little movement.

"While the only poll that counts is the one on Election Day, it is clear Kentuckians are rejecting the politics of obstruction and partisanship in favor of Governor Beshear's efforts to create jobs in every corner of the state and move Kentucky forward," said Beshear campaign spokesman Matt Erwin in a statement.
"We are fighting for every vote in a situation where turnout is extremely fluid," said Donald Storm, the chairman of the Williams-Farmer campaign.

"David and Richie are traveling the state talking to voters about their real plan for real jobs, something Steve Beshear doesn’t have," Storm continued, "We are running solid advertisements statewide, and our volunteers are making calls, knocking on doors, and getting the vote out. We are fighting for Kentucky’s future, and we are asking people across the state to join us. People know in their hearts that Kentucky can do better than Steve Beshear, and we are working hard to turn out the vote.”

Williams has had to fight to win the support of his fellow Republicans. 

In the WHAS11/Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll one month ago, only 51 percent of voters from his own party supported him.  Now, 58 percent of likely GOP voters are backing the Republican nominee.  Williams weathered stronger than expected GOP primary challenges from Tea Party candidate Phil Moffett and Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw.  The primary race drained campaign coffers and the party appears to have not closed ranks behind their candidate.

Republican voters
Beshear  28%
Williams 58%
Galbraith  7%
Undecided 7%
Margin of error +/- 4.2%

Williams is now up to 58 percent Republican support in the WHAS11/Courier-Journal Bluegrass poll with 28 percent of Republicans continuing to cross over and vote for the Democrat, Beshear.

Williams has tried to link Beshear and running mate Jerry Abramson to President Barack Obama - who polls show is unpopular in Kentucky - and to other liberal leanings.

Beshear  40%
Williams 47%
Galbraith  5%
Undecided 8%
Margin of error +/- 4.2%

Yet, the Democrat, Beshear enjoys a stunning 40 percent support of voters who consider themselves conservative.  Williams 47 percent among conservatives leads the race, but a Republican needs to own this category to have a chance in Kentucky.

This poll is our first since an outside group funded by Williams father in law began attack ads against Beshear and also since Beshear's job creation numbers were questioned by the Courier-Journal. 

Opinion of Steve Beshear
Likely voters
Favorable       45%
Unfavorable     27%
Neutral          22%
No Opinion       6%
Margin of error +/- 4.2%

Since then, Steve Beshear's favorability rating is down six points, while those with an unfavorable opinion of the governor is up seven percentage points.

Opinion of David Williams
Likely voters
Favorable      21%
Unfavorable  38%
Neutral           22%
No Opinion    19%
Margin of error +/- 4.2%

In the same period, Williams favorability rating is up four points - yet only a dismal 21 percent.
38 percent of voters still have an unfavorable opinion of the Republican.

In the three WHAS11/Courier-Journal Bluegrass polls of the general election, Williams has never polled above 29%, and Beshear has never polled below 52%.

If Williams fails to close the gap, it will be the second worst showing since 1870 for a Republican running for Kentucky governor.  The worst was Peppy Martin's 22 percent showing against Paul Patton in 1999.  

By Region
Beshear lead
Western  +18%
Louisville area + 36%
North Central + 17%
Eastern +31

Beshear leads by at least 17 percentage points in every region of Kentucky, though his margins have dropped in Western and North Central Kentucky.  Louisville continues to be a stronghold.