McConnell leads Judd 49-40 in new poll


by Joe Arnold

Posted on February 13, 2013 at 6:00 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 14 at 1:47 AM

Who would you vote for?

LOUISVILLE, Ky (WHAS11) -- Even without a decision from actress Ashley Judd, her high profile has even a potential U.S. Senate match-up against Kentucky's longest serving senator on the political front-burner.

A new Harper Polling survey released on Wednesday shows McConnell leading Judd by nine percentage points aomng likely voters.

850 likely Kentucky voters
McConnell - 49%
Judd - 40%

"A definitive decision either way has not been made yet," Judd's publicist, Cara Tripicchio told WHAS11.  "Of course, Ashley remains flattered and honored by the continued interest and support that is being extended."

The McConnell campaign has declined to speculate on potential challengers.

"Clearly, Senator McConnell is in a very strong position within his party and the Commonwealth as a whole and he appreciates the support," said McConnell's campaign manager Jesse Benton.  "There is a long way to the election and Senator McConnell is focused on reforming spending and getting the economy moving again."

Among female voters, Judd is tied with McConnell, but McConnell has an 18 percentage point lead among men in this poll, which was conducted by a firm with Republican ties but not in conjunction with any campaign.

Female voters
McConnell - 44%
Judd - 44%

Male voters
McConnell   54%
Judd              36%

"As is stands right now you have two fairly well defined people in McConnell and Judd," said Scott Jennings of RunSwitch PR which commissioned the poll. "And so it would take some news, or would take some paid advertising to change those images."

Jennings is a former McConnell campaign aide who recently co-founded RunSwitch after managing the Mitt Romney campaign in Ohio.

"These numbers continue to show how vulnerable he is," said Shawn Reilly of Progress Kentucky, a Super PAC whose stated objective is to replace McConnell in the Senate.

"I think it should be very encouraging for the candidates looking at entering this race," Reilly said.

After the head to head question, the poll then asked about the two big points of an attack ad by Karl Rove's Super PAC, Amercian Crossroads.

Support for Ashley Judd
Living in Tennessee
More likely  25%
Less likely   40%

By a 40-25 margin, voters polled said they were less likely to vote for Judd after learning she lives in Tennessee.

"She ought to be one of us and she has been one of us but I'm not sure if she's one of us, now,' said Tom Hutchins.

48 percent of voters were less likely to vote for Judd after hearing her say she "got radical" and supports President Barack Obama. Yet 37 percent said they are more likely as a result.

Support for Ashley Judd
Obama support & "radical"
More likely 37%
Less likely  48%

"Sometimes in order to make things happen you have to make radical changes," said Jeffery McDowell.

Amid rumblings of a possible Republican challenger emerging from the tea party, the poll shows McConnell with solid GOP support.

Support for Mitch McConnell
Republican primary voters
Support             60%
Someone else  23%

Jennings said Judd's favorability numbers are surprisingly low considering that she has never run for elected office.

Opinion of Ashley Judd
850 likely Kentucky voters

Favorable      35%
Unfavorable  45%

Opinion of Mitch McConnell
850 likely Kentucky voters

Favorable       44%
Unfavorable  46%