Ten weeks ahead of the May 18th primary, the candidates leading in the Kentucky U.S. Senate primary polls are welcoming the double digit leads as affirmations of what internal polls reflect. Yet, the candidates trailing in a new WHAS11/Courier-Journal Bluegrass poll suggest that the poll is early and does not jibe with narrower internal polls of their own.
Daniel Mongiardo leads Jack Conway by 18 points in the Democratic Party primary poll, 45% to 27%. A significant 19% are still undecided, and the remaining 9% is split among three other Democrats.
"I've gone through every county and the very fundamental of all of this, politics is nothing but personal relationships," said Mongiardo.
"Survey USA had Steve Beshear down by double digits to Steve henry a couple of weeks before the gubernatorial election," Conway warned, "We have been working hard and one of the areas we've been working hard is in fundraising to get our message out. We have outraised the Lt. Gov. significantly, about 2 1/2 to 1."
Asked if he is doing enough to win, Conway was insistent.
"I'm working plenty hard. All you have to do is look at the bags under my eyes and talk to people who have seen me out on the campaign trail," Conway said, "We are working hard, hard, hard."
Conway leads only on his home turf - in the greater Louisville area where voters know him best.
And Conway says his polling shows that among voters who can identify both candidates, they prefer him by 17 points. Yet more people know Mongiardo after two high profile state races for Lt. Governor and his upset bid versus Republican Senator Jim Bunning in 2004.
"I expected at some point in the spring there might be a poll that came out that said we were down based on lower name ID," Conway acknowledged, "evidently that day has arrived.
Our own polling does not show what you show. Our own polling shows we're within the margin of error despite having a name I-D deficit."
How much money would it take for Conway to increase his name I-D enough to be able to be more competitive with Mongiardo?
"Well I think people are smarter than that," Mongiardo said, "Fundamentally they know that the majority party in Washington right now is not Democratic or Republican, it's the lobbyists and the special interests. And it's the money."
Conway says if he's down, it's only by a few points -- not the 18 point margin in our survey. Candidates who trail by wide margins often resort to attack ads.
"Don't look for us to go tearing anything down," Conway said, "because we're going to run a positive campaign. The voters want to know what have you done, and what can you do for me when you're in the U.S. Senate because people are hurting in Kentucky."
Mongiardo also claims that he will forego a nasty campaign.
"I've been in multiple campaigns, I've never lost a primary. And it always gets negative. It seems the way campaigns are run today, but that's what turns people off. It's what creates this polarization and I've refused to do that becasue if we don't bring people more back together, we can't talk and we're not going to be able to develop the solutions we need."
Conway agrees, saying Kentucky voters are yearning for solutions, such as "job creation. They want to hear us talking about fiscal responsibility. They want to hear their candidates talking about what they can do to break through in Washington because Washington doesn't seem like its working back here in places like Kentucky."