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Poll: Kentucky Senate Race Is ‘Down To The Wire’

Memo Pad Politics

Poll: Kentucky Senate Race Is ‘Down To The Wire’


The race between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes “could hardly be closer and will go down to the wire,” according to a poll of Kentucky’s likely electorate conducted by The Mellman Group for the Grimes campaign.

The poll finds Grimes leading McConnell by 1 point: 43 percent support Grimes, 42 percent support McConnell, and 15 percent are still undecided. The candidates are within the poll’s +/- 3.5 percent margin of error.

“The big point here really is that this is essentially a tied race,” pollster Mark Mellman said in a Grimes campaign press call.

Among respondents who “strongly” back their preferred candidate, 35 percent support Grimes strongly, while 30 percent support McConnell strongly. And among respondents who recognize both of the candidates’ names, Grimes has a 9-point lead (50 percent support Grimes, 41 percent support McConnell, and 9 percent are undecided).

Though McConnell is still far better known than Grimes, as he’s been a Kentucky senator since 1984, Grimes has a much “stronger image with voters.” The candidates have similar favorability ratings (McConnell’s is 42 percent while Grimes’ is 41 percent), but McConnell’s unfavorability rating is 11 points higher than Grimes’ (47 percent to 36 percent).

Grimes has a very strong advantage when it comes to job performance. McConnell has a 29-point net-unfavorable rating for his job performance as the Senate Minority Leader (32 percent view him favorably, 61 percent negatively), while Grimes only has a net-unfavorable rating of 1 point for her job performance as Kentucky’s secretary of tate (38 percent positive, 39 percent negative).

Respondents associated Grimes with the phrases “will work to create good jobs” and “will protect Social Security and Medicare.” They associated McConnell with “opposes raising the minimum wage,” “has been in office too long,” and “supports tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.”

“Alison’s strength is based on a real image advantage,” Mellman said.

The poll noted the “millions of dollars of ads” coming from the McConnell campaign against Grimes. But the Grimes campaign has been doing plenty of its own mudslinging, releasing ads criticizing McConnell for voting against a minimum-wage increase and for voting for corporate tax breaks, among other attacks. VoteVets also recently hit McConnell with a tough ad calling out the senator for blocking legislation that would expand benefits for veterans.

“[There’s a lot more ads from the other side than from our side,” Mellman said. “All of that has some effect on the public perception … I wouldn’t say that any ad is one ad that is making a difference.”

The poll did not include Libertarian candidate David Patterson, who Mellman says could “siphon” a few points away from either major candidate.

Mellman argued that his poll is more accurate than public polls, because it surveyed the “likely electorate” and didn’t just randomly call likely voters. This sample was determined by “analyzing the vote history” of each voter to see how it will affect their vote in November.

Other recent polls have found McConnell pulling ahead of Grimes. The Real Clear Politics poll average now shows McConnell ahead by 5.2 percent.

“We’ve been right when these public polls have been wrong,” Mellman countered, referencing two times — New York City’s 2013 election for comptroller, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) 2010 re-election — that he accurately predicted elections when other polls didn’t. “I feel very, very confident in our methods and I feel, frankly, more confident in our methods than the public polls that have been done.”

Photo: Patrick Delahanty via WikiCommons

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  1. Dominick Vila September 11, 2014

    What is truly amazing is not that Grimes is holding her ground and leading by one point, but that so many Kentuckians don’t seem to understand the implications and consequences of the policy of obstructionism led by Sen. McConnell.
    Even his admission that the policy of inaction and obstructionism that he championed was influenced by the need to ensure President Obama was a one-term president does not seem to bother fellow Americans who should be disgusted by the deliberate delays of our economic recovery and by the pain and misery those policies caused to millions of Americans. It is becoming increasingly obvious that for some inflicting unnecessary pain on fellow Americans and sacrificing our economy might in the pursuit of narrow political goals is well worth it, if that is what it takes to remove a man they hate from Office. Incredibly, these are the same people who consider themselves patriots, who wrap themselves in the flag, and who wish the assassination of an incumbent U.S. President, as it happened in this very forum a few days ago. Shame on them!

    1. angelsinca September 13, 2014

      Maybe the ‘pain and misery’ index runs deeper for those that don’t want changes imposed on them by people that aren’t like them. It is certain that they (conservatives) aren’t liked by those insisting on change, solely for the believe that change is somehow better for everybody. Life sucks for a lot people right now. And it isn’t just because Mitch O’Connell voiced an agenda 6 years ago.

  2. FT66 September 11, 2014

    Who has let the cat out of the bag? People want to pull out a BIG SECOND surprise of the year 2014.

  3. jmprint September 11, 2014

    Come on Kentuckians, get out there and VOTE, and take a friend with you.
    Let’s turn Kentucky BLUE.

    1. angelsinca September 12, 2014

      More Democratic voters would help your cause. But, every time this president makes a public announcement, he loses another voter.

      1. WhutHeSaid September 12, 2014

        Perhaps — among ass-hats in ca, anyway. Funny how that didn’t matter much in 2008 or 2012. Go figure.

        1. angelsinca September 12, 2014

          We can tell how it didn’t matter by how everyone is so displeased with how things are now. So, why did you vote for him twice?

          1. WhutHeSaid September 13, 2014

            Yes, everyone was SO much happier with a devastated economy free-falling toward another Great Depression, bigoted hate, and warmongering lies. You miss old GW, don’t you? He was, after all, another ass-hat goober.

          2. angelsinca September 13, 2014

            Please try to focus on the present. The presidential confidence polls aren’t a comparison to Bush. They are this president’s report card.

          3. angelsinca September 13, 2014

            Why did you vote for him twice?

      2. jmprint September 12, 2014

        So YOU say, but that’s not true. Your opinion doesn’t matter.

        1. angelsinca September 12, 2014

          It’s clear you don’t want more Democratic voters by the way you work so hard to alienate conservatives. You really don’t get it. This is clear.

  4. Whatmeworry September 11, 2014

    Hmm a biased poll paid for by Grimes. Ever unbiased poll shows McConnell lead increasing month after month. Grimes is counting n a large number of illegals voting absentee

    1. WhutHeSaid September 12, 2014

      The last thing real people need is another lying trailer park pundit. Kindly go back inside your mobile palace and make yourself useful (if that’s even possible).

      1. Whatmeworry September 12, 2014

        as opposed to those NYers living in their 400 sq ft shit boxes??

        1. WhutHeSaid September 13, 2014

          Careful now — it’s those New Yorkers that pay all of those tax dollars that you redneck goobers freeload. Not very smart to be attacking your meal ticket, now is it?

          1. Whatmeworry September 13, 2014

            It’s those NYers who have their hands out everytime they are in financial trouble. Who was it that just went to congress a few years ago asking for $20B to cover their HC Costs?? They self insure and then they can’t pay the piper

          2. WhutHeSaid September 13, 2014

            You mean when a GOP goober completely wrecked the economy to the point where businesses were failing at a record pace, and the same goober enacted a bailout program in an attempt to prevent disaster?

          3. Whatmeworry September 13, 2014

            No the economy was fine until the Dem’s community reinvestment act began its unintended consequences that every conservative said would happen.
            Then W was elected and had to deal with a recession that he inherited from Clinton BUTTTTT you never heard him blame Clinton. That’s the difference between a man = W and a boy = barak.
            Then Dems took hold of congress and worked their magic and crashed the economy.
            PS W got the stimulus $$$ but he allowed Barak to appoint his man to run it. Typical for W looking out for the country rather than whining every day

          4. WhutHeSaid September 13, 2014

            Hee-hee! That’s an interesting little story you have there. Has anyone actually fell for it?

            I seem to remember Clinton leaving a surplus – which vanished like a fart in the wind once a spendaholic Republican took office. But then that’s nothing new, now is it? Democratic administrations have historically done much better with the economy than Republican ones. It sort of let’s most of the air out of your fictional claims.

          5. Whatmeworry September 13, 2014

            Hee hee then you should remember him leaving a recession as well. But then again your a lib and reading isn’t something your comfortable with. No what happens is the Republican presidents have to fix the hollowed out military that is left EVERY time a Dem is president. Starting with Truman and will end with Barak while the dem’s piss the $$ away on illegals and non fed responsibilities.
            Right now Barak has managed to accumulate $10T in new debt. When he came into office the debt was $7.5T. What did we get for that $10T better roads, better education, stronger military??? Nope all we got was the shaft and now our grandkids each face a debt load of $150,000 each

          6. WhutHeSaid September 13, 2014

            You have the gall to compare minor fluctuations in the economy during the Clinton administration to the huge economic collapse under Bush? You are making yourself look like a real fool.

            The deficit is primarily a by-product of runaway spending by Republicans in past administrations. Obama has been steadily shrinking the deficit. With Bush, two major unfunded wars were further complicated by the horrible economic collapse. This is most generally the story: Republicans make a big mess of the economy

            In this case Obama reversed Bush’s economic debacle — saving this country from falling into another Great Depression.

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