WS Poll: McConnell, Grimes Statistically Tied in KY Senate; McConnell Holds Enormous Lead Over Primary Challenger Bevin
FEBRUARY 13, 2014-A new Wenzel Strategies survey of likely voters in Kentucky shows Republican Senator Mitch McConnell leads Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes by a 43% to 42% margin, which amounts to a statistical dead heat in a prospective General Election match-up. Another 15% said they were undecided in the McConnell-Grimes contest.
A subsample of GOP Primary Election voters shows McConnell is well on his way to winning his party’s nomination for U.S. Senate, as he leads largely unknown challenger Matt Bevin by a 59% to 17% margin.
With McConnell’s favorability rating improving a bit compared to other recent polling, and with an overwhelming fund-raising advantage, it is hard to imagine a scenario in which Bevin would be able to overcome the current deficit he now faces against McConnell.
In fact, while McConnell’s favorability rating and job approval numbers could certainly use some serious work, he is far from dire straits. He likely benefits from the recently improving fortunes of Senate Republicans nationwide, for which McConnell himself is apparently winning some credit at home.
McConnell wins favorable ratings from 50% of respondents, while 47% said they hold unfavorable opinions of him. By comparison, Grimes is seen favorably by 43% and unfavorably by 36%, which is not bad, but is by no means optimal. One in five likely voters in Kentucky do not yet know enough about Grimes to have formed an opinion about her.
A telling finding from the survey shows that cross-party support favors the Republican incumbent. While McConnell wins 25% support among Democratic voters, Grimes wins just 12% of the support of Republicans. The independent voters in Kentucky are badly outnumbered by the partisans, but Grimes does lead McConnell by a 40% to 34% edge among independents.
This contest is among the most-watched Senate races in the nation this cycle, and is bound to stoke partisan fervor on both sides of the aisle. While Grimes will need to grow her favorable name identification across the state, McConnell’s challenge will be to cement the Republican Party base into a solid foundation after the primary election. That he retains a massive lead over Bevin is an indication that this task is already well in hand. Our experience with these types of contests indicate his numbers are likely to improve once the primary election is over and voters focus on the general election contest and all that is at stake. - FW
Topline Report here: KY Poll Topline Report – US Senate 2-13-2014