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Poll: McConnell Up Big Over Bevin, in Dead Heat with Grimes

A new poll shows Kentucky’s incumbent U.S. Senator coasting to victory against his Republican primary challenger.

But that same poll shows a dead-heat between Sen. Mitch McConnell and presumptive Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes.

The NBC News-Marist poll shows Senator McConnell with a lead of 57-25 percent over his primary challenger, Louisville businessman Matt Bevin. Things are much tighter for the fall general election, however, with the poll showing McConnell with just a 46-45 percent lead over Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Sen. McConnell faces low approval numbers in the new poll, with 46 percent of registered voters saying they disapprove of the job he’s doing, while 41 percent say they approve.

Far fewer voters have formed an opinion about Secretary Grimes, with 27 percent of those surveyed saying they’re unsure, and another 10 percent who say they’ve never heard of her.

Twenty-nine percent of voters say they had a favorable opinion of Grimes, while 24 percent had an unfavorable impression.

One possible advantage for McConnell is President Obama’s low approval ratings in the commonwealth. Fifty-six percent of registered voters said they disapprove of the job the president is doing.

The poll involved nearly 1,400 registered voters and over 400 likely Republican primary voters. The margin of error for the poll featuring the registered voters is plus or minus two percentage points, while the margin of error for the poll including the likely GOP primary voters is plus or minus nearly five percentage points.

Republicans to Tie Grimes to Obama

A Warren County Democrat says her party will have to respond to Republican efforts to nationalize Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race.

Former Bowling Green mayor and Warren County Democratic Party Vice Chair Patsy Sloan says the GOP will do everything possible to convince voters that a vote for Grimes is a vote for President Obama.

“And I don’t blame them, given the obvious unpopularity of Barack Obama in Kentucky," Sloan told WKU Public Radio. "Of course they’re going to do everything they can—they’ve already started, as a matter of fact. And it will simply accelerate. They’re doing to do everything they can to Alison to Obama.”

Sloan says Grimes will have to walk a fine line between distinguishing herself from the President, while at the same time keeping the loyalty and support of the Democratic Party faithful.

Sloan predicts social issues won’t play a major factor in the general election, with most of the attention instead focused on jobs creation, coal, and the Affordable Care Act.

And while some political analysts have speculated that facing a Tea Party-backed challenger like Bevin in the primary could hurt McConnell in the fall general election, Sloan says going through a contested primary may have sharpened McConnell ahead of a potential showdown with Grimes.

“He has gone after it with his usual vigor, and clearly will have the kind of money he needs to continue to do that and have plenty left over for the fall. Nobody is ever going to outraise Mitch McConnell.”

The award-winning news team at WKU Public Radio consists of Dan Modlin, Kevin Willis, Lisa Autry, and Joe Corcoran.
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