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Tag: kentucky elections 2014

Midterm Roundup: Democrats Pull Out Of Kentucky

Here are some interesting stories on the midterm campaigns that you may have missed on Tuesday, October 14:

• In a major blow to Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes’ Senate campaign, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has stopped running TV ads in Kentucky. The move strongly suggests that the committee has given up hope that Grimes can unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Grimes — whose campaign will continue to air ads, and receive on-air support from outside groups — trails McConnell by 3 percent in the Real Clear Politics poll average.

• According to a new CNN/ORC poll, Republican incumbent Rick Scott and Democrat Charlie Crist are tied at 44 percent in Florida’s contentious gubernatorial race. That marks the fourth consecutive poll to show the race within 2 percentage points; Crist leads by less than 1 percent in the poll average.

• Another poll of Alaska’s Senate race has found incumbent Democrat Mark Begich trailing Republican challenger Mark Sullivan. The survey, from Rasmussen Reports, has Sullivan up 3 percent, and he leads by 4.4 percent in the poll average. But that might underestimate Begich’s chances, due to his robust get-out-the-vote operation and the notorious unreliability of Alaska polling.

• Democrat Mike Michaud has opened a 6-point lead in Maine’s three-way gubernatorial race, according to a new Bangor Daily News/Ipsos poll. Michaud has the support of 42 percent of likely voters, followed by incumbent Republican Paul LePage at 36 percent, and Independent Eliot Cutler at 16 percent. The poll pushes Michaud into a narrow lead in the poll average. Were LePage to win, he would likely become the first governor in U.S. history to win back-to-back elections with less than 40 percent of the vote.

• And in North Carolina’s Senate race, Republican candidate Thom Tillis is facing some tough questions over his past declaration that the government had provided “de facto reparations” for slavery by having “redistributed trillions of dollars of wealth over the years.” Incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan holds a small but consistent lead in the poll average.

Photo: UFCW International Union via Flickr

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Midterm Roundup: Could Democrats Win In South Dakota?

Here are some interesting stories on the midterm campaigns that you may have missed on Wednesday, October 8:

• The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is spending $1 million to support Democrat Rick Weiland in South Dakota’s suddenly competitive Senate race. The news comes one day after Mayday PAC also committed to spend $1 million on Weiland’s behalf. Although Republican Mike Rounds still leads by 11.7 percent in the Real Clear Politics poll average, a recent SurveyUSA poll found Rounds 7 percent up on Weiland, and just 3 percent ahead of Independent candidate Larry Pressler. Pressler is a former Republican, but Democrats reportedly believe that he would caucus with them if he wins election to the Senate.

• A new SurveyUSA poll of Georgia’s Senate race finds Republican David Perdue clinging to a 1-point lead over Democrat Michelle Nunn. Perdue has 46 percent of the vote, followed by Nunn at 45 percent, and Libertarian Amanda Swafford at 3 percent. If no candidate wins a majority on Election Day, then the race would advance to a January runoff — with control of the Senate possibly hanging in the balance. Perdue leads by 3.2 percent in the poll average.

• Meanwhile, Nunn’s campaign is up on the airwaves with a new ad hammering Perdue for admitting that he outsourced jobs overseas throughout his business career.

• The DSCC released a new attack ad accusing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) of using his three decades in office to enrich himself. The move suggests that the Democrats still view Kentucky’s Senate race as winnable, despite McConnell’s 4 percent lead in the poll average.

• And a new CNN/ORC poll finds that embattled Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) has recovered enough Republican support to reclaim a 1-point lead over Independent candidate Greg Orman. Every other recent public poll has found Orman ahead, and he leads by 4 percent in the poll average.

Photo: Total due via Flickr

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Midterm Roundup: Grimes Pulls Ahead In Kentucky?

Here are some interesting stories on the midterm campaigns that you may have missed on Monday, October 6:

• After weeks of polls suggesting that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was pulling ahead of Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes, a new Courier-Journal/SurveyUSA poll reaches the opposite conclusion. It finds Grimes leading McConnell among likely voters, 46 to 42 percent. That result is within the margin of error, but represents a 6-point shift from the August edition of the poll. A startling 57 percent of respondents said that after 30 years in office, it’s time for McConnell to be replaced. Still, the minority leader is up 4.2 percent in the Real Clear Politics poll average.

• A Loras College poll released Monday finds Democrat Bruce Braley and Republican Joni Ernst deadlocked at 42 percent in Iowa’s Senate race—12 percent remain undecided, suggesting that the race could still tip either way. Ernst leads by just 1.9 percent in poll average for the crucial race, which could determine which party controls the Senate.

• A new round of NBC News/Marist Senate polls contained some good news for Democrats. In Iowa, Ernst leads Braley by 2 percent, within the margin of error. But in North Carolina, incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan leads Republican challenger Thom Tillis by 4 percent, roughly equal to her 3.7 percent lead in the poll average. And in Kansas, Independent Greg Orman leads incumbent Republican Pat Roberts by 10 percent, pushing his lead in the poll average up to 5.2 percent. Orman has said that he will caucus with whichever party holds the majority — but he could switch allegiances later in his term.

• Most Democrats on the ballot aren’t eager to showcase their ties to President Obama — but Illinois governor Pat Quinn is an exception. On Monday, his campaign released an ad starring First Lady Michelle Obama, who explains why “Barack and I are casting our votes for our friend, Pat Quinn.” Quinn leads Republican Bruce Rauner by 1.5 percent in the poll average.

• And if you have been closely tracking the 2014 campaign, you are in the minority. According to the latest numbers from the Pew Research Center, just 15 percent of Americans are following the midterm campaigns very closely — less than half the number that has been closely monitoring the Ebola outbreak or the U.S. military campaign against ISIS.

Photo: UFCW International Union via Flickr

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Midterm Roundup: Grimes Isn’t Done Yet In Kentucky

Here are some interesting stories on the midterm campaigns that you may have missed on Wednesday, October 1:

• Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes released an internal poll finding her 2 points ahead of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Although such polls should always be taken with a grain of salt — especially when they contradict public surveys (McConnell leads by 5.3 percent in the Real Clear Politics poll average) — it should be noted that pollster Mark Mellman has a history of outperforming the competition.

• In other Kentucky news, on Wednesday former president Bill Clinton made his first appearance in a Grimes campaign ad.

• Senator Pat Roberts’ (R-KS) political troubles keep mounting. A new USA Today/Suffolk University poll finds Independent candidate Greg Orman ahead of Roberts, 46 to 42 percent. Making matters worse for the three-term incumbent, The Hill reports that Kansas Tea Party groups are now threatening to sit the election out. Orman leads by 5.3 percent in the poll average.

• Wisconsin’s gubernatorial race is still a tossup. On Wednesday, a Marquette University Law School poll found incumbent Republican Scott Walker leading Democratic challenger Mary Burke among likely voters, 50 to 45 percent. He leads by just 1 point among registered voters. The poll comes one day after a Gravis Marketing survey showed Burke up 50 to 45 percent among registered voters. Walker leads by 1.8 percent in the poll average.

• And Republicans have uncovered another inconvenient case of voter fraud: Leslie Rutledge, the GOP candidate for attorney general in Arkansas, had her voter registration canceled after the Pulaski county clerk discovered that she is also registered to vote in Washington DC, and possibly Virginia.

Photo: Patrick Delahanty via Wikimedia Commons

McConnell Wraps Opponent In Obama, Gains Edge In Kentucky Senate Race

By Sam Youngman, McClatchy Washington Bureau

LEXINGTON, Ky. — When Jim Cauley returned to Pikeville, Kentucky, this month for his 30th high school reunion, he heard familiar complaints from old classmates.

“I can’t believe you did that to us,” Cauley said. “That’s their favorite line.”

Though a native of the Eastern Kentucky mountain town, Cauley is still vilified by many in the state for a job he took in 2004: managing Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate campaign in Illinois.

A decade later, disdain for Obama in Kentucky is at a fever pitch, and it is at the core of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s increasingly confident re-election campaign.

McConnell is establishing a small but steady lead over his Democratic challenger, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, who at age 35 is running only her second political campaign.

Cauley and other Kentucky Democratic strategists in recent days warned that unless Grimes significantly changes her strategy, she is in danger of losing. That would not only give McConnell a sixth term, but also win in one of the few Senate races where the Republicans might once have been vulnerable. That would make it more likely that the Republicans could gain the net six seats they need to seize control of the Senate, and to help McConnell reach his ultimate career goal of becoming Senate majority leader.

It’s not that McConnell is that popular. Only 36 percent of registered voters had a favorable view of him in a recent Bluegrass Poll.

But Obama is disliked even more — just 29 percent viewed him favorably in the same poll. And McConnell appears to have successfully convinced many Kentucky voters, especially those in coal-producing regions, that Grimes would be a rubber stamp for the president.

Well into this year, outside political analysts viewed Grimes as a lethal threat to McConnell’s future. They pointed to McConnell’s high negative numbers, a primary challenge from within his own party and the enthusiasm of Democrats who have long loathed the senator.

During that period, Grimes kept her focus on fundraising as she tried to catch up to McConnell’s huge advantage.

By largely forfeiting the opportunity to introduce herself at a time when McConnell was distracted by his own primary challenge, Grimes allowed Republicans to define her in the eyes of voters who were already contemptuous of Obama, said Stephen Voss, a political science professor at the University of Kentucky.

“Many voters reported being uncertain or neutral about Grimes going into the general election, and that meant she would need to try to define herself as a Kentucky Democrat while competing with McConnell’s contrary message that she will become a stooge for President Obama,” Voss said.

At the same time, McConnell’s campaign worked to define Grimes as an Obama ally. McConnell pointed to a huge decline in coal jobs, which Republicans argue that is the result of Obama’s “war on coal,” and strived to link Grimes to it.

Kentucky is particularly sensitive to the pressures on coal mining, as 21 coal mines were idled in the state during the first half of this year, a third of all the coal mines nationwide to be closed. Several forces contributed, such as lower costs for natural gas and rising imports of lower-cost coal from outside the United States. But new environmental rules announced this summer by the Obama administration have added to the forces against Eastern Kentucky coal and stoked the belief that Obama is deliberately hurting the coal industry.

“It’s so widely known in Kentucky that this administration … has put a bull’s eye on the coal industry, particularly in the eastern part of the state,” said Mike Duncan, a Kentucky banker and former chairman of the Republican National Committee. McConnell, he said, has “done a good job of connecting the dots.”

Grimes has tried to position herself as a pro-coal Democrat. Maybe the best example is the ad she ran this month in which she’s shooting skeet and says, “I’m not Barack Obama. I disagree with him on guns, coal and the EPA.”

The first signs that the McConnell approach was working came on the night of the May 20 primary.

McConnell won his primary easily. Grimes sailed to the Democratic nomination, but she lost almost a quarter of registered Democrats to one of her unknown, unfunded opponents in what appeared to be protest votes in the state’s closed primary. The worst margins for Grimes, predictably, came from coal-producing counties.

Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), defended the Grimes campaign’s early strategy. “She had to do what she was doing at the time,” he said. “She had to put together the organization, and she had to raise money.”

But after the primary, the polls began to shift in McConnell’s favor. For weeks, the race seemed to focus almost entirely on coal, as Grimes’ central message of economic populism — raising the minimum wage, equal pay for women and reducing student loan debt — failed to gain much traction beyond her reliable Democratic base.

Meanwhile, Republicans who had supported McConnell’s primary challenger began returning to McConnell, as polls showed one in four Democrats choosing McConnell over Grimes.

“McConnell was not as weak as he looked because those conservatives disparaging him nonetheless are the sort who turn out to vote, and once they’re forced to choose between a Republican and a Democrat, they’ll side with the GOP most of the time,” Voss said.

Republicans who not long ago were concerned about McConnell’s chances are starting to feel more comfortable.

“A year ago, I was concerned about the race,” Duncan said. “Six months ago, I thought some movement had been made. In the last few weeks, it’s clear to me that Kentuckians have been coming home to Sen. McConnell.”

But Yarmuth warned that McConnell is still below 50 percent in most polls, and he thinks Grimes is in the process of winning over Kentuckians who want to vote against McConnell but haven’t been completely sold on Grimes as an alternative.

Grimes recently released television and newspaper ads emphasizing her plan to raise the minimum wage, equal pay for women and job training for veterans.

“I think you’re going to see a lot more of that kind of approach, so that people who don’t want to vote for Mitch have a better understanding of who she is and what she wants to do,” Yarmuth said. “I think that’s her challenge over the next month.”

The race, Yarmuth said, is far from over.

“I know their campaign is not discouraged, and I’m not discouraged for them,” he said.

Youngman reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

WATCH: Grimes Shoots Gun, Is Not Obama

Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes released a new TV ad on Monday, distancing herself from President Barack Obama and mocking Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in one fell swoop.

In the 30-second ad, Grimes explains her differences with President Obama while skeet shooting in an open field.

“I’m not Barack Obama. I disagree with him on guns, coal, and the EPA,” Grimes says in the ad.

“And Mitch,” she adds as a photo of McConnell gripping a rifle at CPAC appears on screen, “That’s not how you hold a gun.”

The ad makes Grimes the latest in a long string of candidates to pitch herself to voters while firing a gun. Even the White House has released photos of President Obama shooting clay targets (he appears somewhat less comfortable with a rifle than Grimes, although he’s at least holding it right side up).

It’s also the latest in a series of attempts by Grimes to distance herself from the president. In addition to their policy differences, Obama’s dismal approval rating in Kentucky — a recent CNN/ORC International poll found it at just 29 percent — makes him a serious liability to Bluegrass State Democrats.

Kentucky’s Senate race remains close, although the latest polls show McConnell gaining strength. He leads Grimes by 5.2 percent, according to the Real Clear Politics polling average.

Screenshot: Alison for Kentucky/YouTube

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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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Poll Roundup: Colorado Senate Race Is A ‘Nail Biter’ Leading Up To First Debate

As the 2014 midterm elections draw closer, pollsters across the country will begin releasing masses of data and their predictions of who will control the House of Representatives, the Senate, and statehouses across the country. We’ll put those predictions in focus and provide a brief summary of key polls. Here’s our roundup from the week of August 31:


The latest Rasmussen Reports survey, released on Friday, describes the Colorado Senate race as “nail-biter.” Democratic incumbent Mark Udall leads by 2 points, with 44 percent of the vote. Republican challenger Cory Gardner has 42 percent. The candidates are well within the poll’s +/- 4 percent margin of error.

Gardner is attempting to win the support of women by supporting over-the-counter birth control, even though in the past he’s backed fetal personhood bills that would have restricted some types of birth control. Udall has used this and Gardner’s support for other abortion restrictions against him in the past.

The two candidates have their first debate this Saturday. Political analyst Eric Sondermann told that Gardner needs to “come across as credible and reasonable. In tone as well as substance, he needs to put to rest the notion that his views are scary or somehow outside the Colorado mainstream.”

But Udall, like many other Democratic candidates, has to fight against President Obama’s low approval numbers. “This debate offers an opportunity for him to do the hard work of putting some distance between himself and the Obama-led Democratic establishment in Washington,” Sondermann said.

The Real Clear Politics poll average has Udall ahead by 1.3 percent.


Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell appears to be holding on to his lead over Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes. A CNN/ORC poll released on Wednesday finds that 50 percent of likely voters plan on voting for McConnell, while 46 percent support Grimes, 2 percent support neither, 1 percent would vote for another candidate, and 1 percent have no opinion. When asked if there was a chance they would change their vote, 77 percent said they had “made up” their mind, while 19 percent said there was chance they could change, and 4 percent had no opinion.

Among registered voters, the race is a little closer — 47 percent said they would vote for McConnell, 46 percent for Grimes, 5 percent for neither, 1 percent for another candidate, and 2 percent have no opinion. When asked how confident they were in their decision, 68 percent said their mind was “made up,” 24 percent said there was a chance that they could change their mind, and 8 percent had no opinion.

The poll has a +/- 3 percent margin of error. It shows McConnell leading among men and white voters, while Grimes has the support of women, including white women.

In a Rasmussen Reports survey, also released on Wednesday, McConnell leads Grimes by 5 percent. Among likely voters, 46 percent support McConnell, 41 percent support Grimes, 7 percent like another candidate, and 6 percent are undecided. The poll has a +/- 4 percent margin of error.

The Real Clear Politics poll average has McConnell ahead by 3.2 points.


A Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9/UF Bob Graham Center poll released on Tuesday shows Republican governor Rick Scott ahead of Democratic challenger Charlie Crist by 5 percent, and “finds Florida voters mostly optimistic about the state’s economic direction but decidedly sour on their gubernatorial choices.”

Among voters surveyed, 40.9 percent would vote for Scott, 35.7 percent for Crist, and 6.3 percent for Libertarian Adrian Wyllie. When Wyllie was taken off the ballot, 43.7 percent supported Scott and 37.6 supported Crist.

Voters don’t think that either Crist or Scott is honest and ethical.

“This is not a case in which we’ve got two gubernatorial candidates who are captivating voters by their integrity and their leadership,” David Colburn, interim director of the Bob Graham Center for Public Service, said. “The voters are troubled by these candidates, and it seems to be anything can happen over the last two months.”

But 48.7 percent of voters think that Florida’s economy is recovering, and 25.2 percent said that it will recover soon. Most voters, 7 in 10, said that the governor “can do a lot” about the economy.

“If I were Rick Scott, I’d be playing up the economy as he has been. I would take this poll result and I would run with it,” Christopher McCarty, director of the UF Survey Research Center said.

The poll’s authors also said that Crist should “try and debunk Scott’s efforts to take credit for Florida’s improving economy.”

The Real Clear Politics poll average has Scott ahead by 1.7 points.


A We Ask America poll released on Thursday shows Democrat Mary Burke ahead of Republican governor Scott Walker by 4 percent. Among likely voters, 48 percent support Burke, 44 percent would vote for Walker, 2 percent would vote for a third party, and 6 percent were undecided. The poll has a +/- 3 percent margin of error.

The poll authors point out that “Burke doesn’t provide the same type of easy contrast that Walker was able to use in the past against his opponents.” Walker has to deal with the consequences of his actions as governor — including his job-creation promises, on which he “fell short.”

Burke has to overcome her business career at TREK bicycle, where some have called her an outsourcer for sending jobs to China. President Obama also has a negative approval rating in Wisconsin, which could hurt Burke’s chances.

The Real Clear Politics poll average has Burke ahead by 1 point.


A WRBL/Ledger-Enquirer/PMB poll released on Tuesday shows Democrat Michelle Nunn only slightly ahead of Republican David Perdue in the Georgia Senate race. Nunn has 44.74 percent of the vote, while Perdue has 43.09 percent of the vote. The candidates are within the poll’s +/- 2.47 percent margin of error. editor Todd Ruhm told WRBL that this election will be heavily affected by gender.

“Michelle Nunn does poll better among women,” he said. “Her campaign is designed to do better among women. She was chosen and promoted partly to do better among women.”

Rehn thinks that Nunn will benefit from the fact that more women turn out to vote than men.

The Real Clear Politics poll average has Perdue ahead by 1.7 points.

Screenshot: Cory Gardner for Senate/YouTube

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