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Poll: McConnell Vulnerable in 2014

Kentucky may have a serious election on its hands in 2014 with a new poll showing that even actress Ashley Judd would be competitive against Senator Mitch McConnell.

In new numbers released Tuesday by Public Policy Polling, Senator McConnell holds just a slim lead over three possible Democratic challengers. The five-term Republican from Louisville is the Senate Minority Leader and has already amassed a daunting campaign war chest of $7 million. McConnell, 70, was first elected to the United States Senate in 1984.

The closeness of the potential match-ups could be tied to the senator's unfavorable rating among Kentucky voters. More than half, 55%, disapprove of McConnell's job performance while only 37% approve, making him the most unpopular Senator in the nation. The Republican leads three Democrats by a margin of 47%-43% in head-to-head match-ups: Lieutenant Governor Jerry Abramson, Attorney General Jack Conway, and Judd. McConnell leads Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer 46-41, Secretary of State Allison Lundergan Grimes 47-40, Louisville Congressman John Yarmuth 48-38, State Auditor Adam Edelen 48-36, and businessman Matthew Barzun 48-37.

In a possible Republican primary between McConnell and newly elected Northern Kentucky Congressman Thomas Massie, McConnell leads by forty-eight points, 66-18. Fifty-percent of respondents want McConnell as the nominee while twenty-five percent want "someone more conservative", according to the data.

“Kentucky is a tough state for Democrats,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “But given how unpopular McConnell is and how few opportunities there are for them to play offense in 2014, this should be one of the most hotly contested races in the country.”

In fairness, Kentucky is only a tough state for Democrats at the federal level. Both US Senators and as of January 2013 five of six Congressmen are Republicans. At the state level, however, Democrats hold five of six statewide offices, including Governor.

As for whom Democrats prefer to go against McConnell in 2014, 29% want Judd, 16% want Abramson, 15% want Conway, while the rest are in single digits. No Democrat has announced an official campaign yet.

See the full results, including demographic & ideological breakdowns, and favorable/unfavorable ratings for all of the possible candidates: click here (PDF)

Written by Michael Monks, Editor & Publisher of The River City News

PHOTO: Sen. Mitch McConnell