Pendulum in KY Senate Race Swings Ever-So-Slightly To McConnell — With Or Without Libertarian Patterson on the Ballot

SurveyUSA Operations - 07/30/14 07:29 AM

Kentucky icon Mitch McConnell leads Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes by a nominal 2 points today, both in a head-to-head contest that excludes Libertarian David Patterson, and in a 3-way contest that explicitly includes Patterson. In a 2-person race, it’s McConnell 47%, Grimes 45%. In a 3-person race, it’s McConnell 41%, Grimes 39%, Patterson 7%.

This latest Bluegrass Poll, conducted for the Louisville Courier-Journal, the Lexington Herald-Leader, WHAS-TV and WKYT-TV, the 3rd Bluegrass Poll of 2014, is the most favorable yet to the U.S. Senate Minority Leader. A survey in February showed Grimes ahead by 4 points. A survey in May showed Grimes ahead by a nominal 1 point. Neither of the previous 2 polls explicitly mentioned the Libertarian candidate. It is not fair to say, from these numbers, that Patterson hurts one candidate more than the other. But it is fair to say that Patterson throws a wrench into the mix: with his name included in the poll question, the number of undecided voters increases from 8% to 13%. Beyond the number who say they are undecided, 1 in 4 voters say they might change their mind before the 11/04/14 election.

McConnell’s favorability is up, from 29% ten weeks ago to 36% today. In fact, McConnell’s favorability today is exactly the same as Grimes’s, 36%. The difference is: McConnell’s unfavorability today is 10 percentage points higher than Grimes, 43% to 33%. As a point of reference, President Barack Obama’s favorability number in Kentucky is 28% today.

3 key issues highlight how Kentucky sees the candidates: Voters by a narrow margin say that McConnell will do a better job balancing the state’s coal interests with the need for cleaner air. Voters by a narrow margin say that Grimes will do a better at creating jobs. Voters split evenly on which candidate will keep Medicare stable.

Kentucky by 48% to 40% says that Republicans would do a better job than Democrats controlling the U.S. Senate. Whether McConnell is re-elected to a 6th term will go a long way toward determining which party does have control of the Senate in the next Congress.

Cell-phone respondents and home-phone respondents included in this survey: SurveyUSA interviewed 800 state of Kentucky adults 07/18/14 through 07/23/14. Of the adults, 714 were registered to vote. Of the registered, 604 were determined by SurveyUSA to be likely to vote in the 11/04/14 election for U.S. Senate. This research was conducted using blended sample, mixed mode. Respondents reachable on a home telephone (73% of likely voters) were interviewed on their home telephone in the recorded voice of a professional announcer. Respondents not reachable on a home telephone (27% of likely voters) were shown a questionnaire on their smartphone, tablet or other electronic device.

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