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Election 2014: Kentucky Senate

Kentucky Senate: McConnell (R) 48%, Grimes (D) 41%

Friday, May 30, 2014

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell now holds a seven-point lead over Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race following last week’s state party primaries.

McConnell earns 48% support to Grimes’ 41% in the latest Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey of Likely Kentucky Voters. Five percent (5%) like some other candidate in the race, and seven percent (7%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

The two were tied with 42% support each in late January in Rasmussen Reports’ first look at the then-hypothetical race.

McConnell, a member of the Senate since 1985, was reelected in 2008 with 53% of the vote. He won the May 20 GOP primary with 60% support in the face of a spirited Tea Party challenge from businessman Matt Bevin. Grimes, Kentucky’s current elected secretary of State, captured her party’s Senate nomination on the same day with 76% support.

McConnell now has the backing of 76% of Kentucky Republicans and 27% of the state’s Democrats. Sixty-seven percent (67%) of Democrats and 18% of GOP voters favor Grimes. Voters not affiliated with either major political party prefer the Democrat by three points.

Republicans need a net gain of six seats to take control of the U.S. Senate, and Democrats view Grimes’ candidacy as one of their best chances to take away an existing GOP seat.

The new national health care law is even more unpopular in Kentucky than it is nationally,  and Grimes has ducked questions in recent days about whether she would have voted for Obamacare if she had been a member of the Senate at the time. Just 38% of Kentucky voters view the law favorably, while 60% have an unfavorable opinion of it. This includes 15% with a Very Favorable view and 45% with a Very Unfavorable one.

Ninety-four percent (94%) of voters with a Very Favorable opinion of the health care law support Grimes. McConnell earns 78% support from those with a Very Unfavorable view.

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The survey of 750 Likely Voters in Kentucky was conducted on May 28-29, 2014 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Thirty-six U.S. Senate seats are on the ballot this November. Twenty-one of them are held by Democrats and 15 by Republicans. Democrats have a 53-to-45 majority over Republicans in the Senate. In addition, there are two independent senators who caucus with the Democrats.

Both candidates are well-known in Kentucky and have higher unfavorables than favorables. For McConnell, Very Favorables are 21%, Very Unfavorables 30%. Grimes is seen Very Favorably by 18% and Very Unfavorably by 26%. Views of McConnell are unchanged from January, while Grimes is now better known but also more unpopular.

At this point in an election cycle, Rasmussen Reports considers the number of people with a strong opinion more significant than the total favorable/unfavorable numbers.

By comparison, 33% have a Very Favorable view of the state’s other U.S. senator, Rand Paul, a Republican. Twenty-four percent (24%) share a Very Unfavorable opinion of him.

President Obama’s plan to reduce emissions from coal-fired power plants is a sore subject in coal-producing states like Kentucky, and Grimes has gone out of her way to portray herself as a pro-coal Democrat at odds with Obama. Nearly half (48%) of Kentucky voters think the Obama administration wants to outlaw the coal industry, a view shared by just 31% of voters nationwide in July of last year.  Twenty-eight percent (28%) of Bluegrass State voters disagree and say the administration does not want to kill the coal industry, but nearly as many (24%) are not sure.

McConnell has the support of 74% of voters who think the administration wants to outlaw the coal industry. Eighty-two percent (82%) of those in the smaller group who disagree favor Grimes.

Just 11% of all Kentucky voters think the new government regulations on the coal industry will help the economy. Most (54%) think they will hurt the economy instead, a view shared by only 41% of voters nationally last summer. Fifteen percent (15%) in the state say the regulations will have no impact, but 20% more are not sure.

Fifteen percent (15%) of voters in Kentucky now rate the economy as good or excellent, while three times as many (47%) think it is in poor shape. But 32% consider their own finances good or excellent, compared to 22% who say their personal finances are poor.

(Platinum Members can see state-by-state comparisons of the topics regularly tracked by Rasmussen Reports, including views of the economy and the health care law, here.)

Republican Mitt Romney carried Kentucky over Obama by a 60% to 38% margin in the 2012 election, and just 38% of the state’s voters now approve of the job the president is doing. Sixty percent (60%) disapprove. This includes 19% who Strongly Approve and 48% who Strongly Disapprove. These findings haven’t budged much since January and give the president a much worse job approval rating than he earns nationally.

Sixty-three percent (63%) approve of Democratic Governor Steve Beshear’s job performance, a 10-point jump from earlier this year. Thirty-three percent (33%) disapprove. This includes 23% who Strongly Approve and 13% who Strongly Disapprove.

See our most recent numbers from the Senate races in AlaskaArkansas, ColoradoGeorgia IllinoisIowaKansas,  LouisianaMaine,MichiganMississippiMontanaNebraskaNew HampshireNorth Carolina,  Oregon,   South DakotaTennesseeVirginia and West Virginia.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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