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Grimes leads McConnell in first Bluegrass Poll

by Joe Arnold

WHAS11.com

Posted on February 6, 2014 at 6:00 PM

Updated Friday, Feb 7 at 6:57 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Nine months before Kentucky's 2014 U.S. Senate election, Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes leads five-term incumbent Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) 46% to 42% in a WHAS11/Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll released Thursday.

Click here to see full poll results

McConnell enjoys a comfortable 26 point margin in the Republican primary contest against Matt Bevin in the poll conducted by Survey USA and commissioned by a partnership of WHAS11, The Courier-Journal, WKYT-TV in Lexington and the Lexington Herald-Leader.

If the November general election for United States Senate were today, and the only two candidates on the ballot were Republican, Mitch McConnell and Democrat, Alison Lundergan Grimes who would you vote for?

42%  McConnell
46%  Lundergan Grimes
12%  Undecided

Asked of 1082 registered voters
Margin of Sampling Error for this question = ± 3%

 "This is not going to be a coast for Mitch McConnell," said pollster Jay Leve of Survey USA.  "It's going to be a dogfight. Every vote is going to matter. This election is going to have national consequences.  We're going to see a lot of money from outside interests flow into Kentucky."

McConnell leads in Eastern and Western Kentucky.  Grimes leads in greater Louisville and North Central Kentucky.

Sixty percent of likely voters in the Bluegrass Poll disapprove of McConnell's job performance, matching President Barack Obama's sixty percent disapproval rating in Kentucky.

McConnell, the Republican Leader of the U.S. Senate, appears to be paying a price for being around a long time, while the jury is still out on Grimes.

Among likely voters, McConnell and Grimes have virtually identical favorability ratings in the poll, 27 percent for McConnell and 26 percent for Grimes.

But McConnell's 50 percent unfavorability rating is nearly twice Grimes' 27 percent unfavorability rating.

"So half of Kentucky has no opinion of Grimes whatsoever," Leve explained.

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

27%    Favorable
50%    Unfavorable
19%    Neutral
4%      No Opinion

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

26%    Favorable
27%    Unfavorable
29%    Neutral
18%    No Opinion

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

10%    Favorable
17%    Unfavorable
37%    Neutral
37%    No Opinion

Asked of 1082 registered voters
Margin of Sampling Error for this question = ± 3%

"McConnell's job is to take that half of the electorate and turn them into Grimes antagonists," Leve continued.  "Her job, obviously, is to take that half of the electorate and turn them into Grimes advocates.  And therein lies the rub... where the contest will be decided."

The challenge for the campaigns going forward appears to be who does a better job introducing Grimes to the combined 47 percent of Kentucky voters who have either no opinion of her or are neutral.

"She's benefiting from the fact that voters right now are looking for anyone but McConnell," Leve said.  "She is that 'anyone but.'"

Republican primary challenger Matt Bevin has tried to position himself as the alternative to McConnell. Yet, among Republicans, McConnell enjoys a 26 point advantage over Bevin in the WHAS11/Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll.

 If the May 20th Republican Primary for United States Senate were today, and the only two Republicans on the ballot were... Mitch McConnell and Matthew Bevin which Republican would you vote for?

55%  McConnell
29%  Bevin
15%  Undecided

Asked of 404 registered republicans
Margin of Sampling Error for this question = ± 4.9%

 "It's not that Bevin is a imminent challenge," Leve said, "and I think it would be extraordinary for Bevin to upset Mcconnell in the primary."

Claiming to be the true conservative in the race, Bevin says McConnell has not done enough to prevent harmful policies advanced by the Obama administration.

Related: What do Kentucky voters think of Sen. Rand Paul's presidential ambitions?

Republican voters are split. 35% of Republicans say McConnell compromises too much with Democrats, 20% say he compromises too little and 32% say he compromises just the right amount.

By contrast: 19% say Matt Bevin would, if elected, compromise too much, 16% say Bevin would compromise too little, and 22% say Bevin would compromise just the right amount. 43% are not sure about what Bevin would do if elected.

By a narrow, four percent margin, Kentucky favors repealing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. 49% say repeal, 44% say fix as needed.

WHAS11 did not share the poll results with any campaign prior to the 6pm Thursday release.  Those reactions are expected Thursday night.

After the poll was released, the Super PAC Kentuckians for Strong Leadership released a new ad featuring Grimes and Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, click the video for more on this new ad.
 

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