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Poll: McConnell Pulling Away from Grimes, Conway Leads All Republicans

A new poll released shows Senator Mitch McConnell opening up a lead on his Democratic challenger, and Attorney General Jack Conway ahead over all Republicans in next year's governor's race.

The results of the latest Public Policy Polling survey show McConnell, who is seeking his sixth six-year term in Washington, leading Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes by a margin of 44% to 40%. Libertarian David Patterson scores 7%. Patterson's supporters say in the poll that if they had to choose between the major party candidates that they would pick McConnell by a 44/34 spread, and when those voters reallocated to their second choice it gives McConnell a 47/42 advantage.

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Alison Lundergan Grimes at Fancy Farm earlier this month/RCN file

The poll would appear to be bad news for Grimes. An April poll by the same firm showed her leading McConnell by a margin of 45 to 44. Worse, 45% of respondents have an unfavorable view of Grimes compared to 41% who have a favorable view. The poll is not exactly a ringing endorsement for McConnell, however. 54% disapprove of the Senate Minority Leader's job performance.

“Mitch McConnell’s starting to see Republican voters unify around him a little bit more,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “That’s allowed him to regain a small lead although the race remains very competitive overall.” 
Meanwhile, Conway's campaign for governor is off to a good start more than a year before the 2015 general election, though the race is still pretty wide open. Conway is the only Democrat in the race but the Republican side has two announced candidates with more possibly waiting in the wings.
18% of respondents want Republican Commissioner of Agriculture James Comer to be the GOP nominee. He announced his candidacy at Fancy Farm earlier this month and The River City News exclusively reported that he will tap Kenton County State Senator Chris McDaniel to be his running mate. Former Louisville Alderman Hal Heiner, another announced candidate, is the choice of 11% of respondents.
Louisville businessman Matt Bevin, who lost the May primary to McConnell in the Senate race, is the choice of 25% of respondents, leading all Republicans, though he has not entered the race. Former US Ambassador Cathy Bailey comes in at 11%.
Jack Conway leads all of the Republicans in potential general election match ups, but several of them are quite close and there are many undecideds. Conway is up 3 points on Comer and Bevin at 38/35 and 39/36 respectively, 7 points on Heiner at 39/32, and 12 points on Bailey at 42/30. Conway has a 35/28 favorability rating, making him a good deal better known than the Republicans, so at least part of his early advantage is probably attributable to name recognition, a release from PPP said.
Meanwhile, the President and his namesake healthcare law are still unpopular in Kentucky. When asked if they approve of the President’s job performance, 32% of voters say they approve but 63% of voters say they disapprove. The Affordable Care Act is less unpopular, across the state 34% of voters approve of the healthcare law while 51% disapprove. However the state operated healthcare marketplace, Kynect, has a net positive favorability rating, 34/27. 
PPP is expected to release more results from its latest Kentucky poll. It previewed some of the other items it asked about and found that 42% of Kentucky Republicans believe that there is a "war on white people" being waged by Democrats, and that Senator Rand Paul is by far the state's most popular senator. When released, those details will be published here, too.
PPP surveyed 991 likely voters from August 7th to August 10th. The margin of error for the sample is +/-3.1 %. 80% of interviews for the poll were conducted over the phone with 20% interviewed over the internet to reach respondents who don’t have landline telephones.

See the full results: Click Here (PDF)

Staff report

Photo: McConnell and his wife, Elaine Chao, at Fancy Farm/RCN file