Public Policy Polling just tested Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R) political strength through a liberal Senate Majority PAC-sponsored push poll (May 23-24; 556 registered Kentucky voters). The data projects McConnell to be in a flat-footed tie (45-45 percent) with Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D); but in reality, the veteran senator is in much better position.
Though Grimes might be the Democrats’ strongest potential senatorial candidate, it is highly unlikely that she will run. Despite repeated overtures from Democratic leaders asking her to enter the race, Grimes has yet to make any move that suggests she is contemplating such a move.
The Senate Majority PAC polling questionnaire is far from being objective. Containing inflammatory statements against McConnell, the poll is designed to obtain negative responses about him. Examine their questions:
Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? “Mitch McConnell is part of the problem in Washington, DC, and has forgotten about the people of Kentucky.” Result: Agree, 50-40 percent
Mitch McConnell has voted to cut taxes for millionaires like himself, while supporting cuts to Social Security and Medicare for hard-working Kentucky seniors. Does this make you more or less likely to vote for him, or does it not make a difference? Result: Less Likely, 50-23 percent
Within the last week, no fewer than four major potential senatorial candidates have decided not to run. Three sitting members of the House, representatives John Barrow (D-GA-12), Steve King (R-IA-4), and Tom Price (R-GA-6), and one former congresswoman, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin from South Dakota, each announced that they will be doing something other than running for the United States Senate in 2014. With so many potential candidates content to allow their current opportunity to evaporate, what now is the status of the various Senate races?
Both the Republicans and Democrats have, so far, experienced recruitment failures. Democrats see two seats that they currently hold, Jay Rockefeller’s post in West Virginia and Tim Johnson’s position in South Dakota, going by the wayside. Currently, they have no candidate willing to challenge GOP Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV-2) in the Mountaineer State, and their two strongest South Dakota potential contenders have taken a pass. While they do have a former aide to Sen. Tom Daschle (Rick Weiland) now in the race, it is apparent that he is no match for Republican former Gov. Mike Rounds.
Republicans have yet to field a candidate in Iowa where Sen. Tom Harkin (D) is retiring. Continue reading >
Public Policy Polling (April 5-7; 1,052 registered Kentucky voters) tested Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) as he prepares for re-election. The poll was taken after actress Ashley Judd (D) stated that she would not challenge the senator in 2014.
As has been detected in other polls, McConnell’s job approval is poor. According to this study, only 36 percent of the sampling universe approves of his performance as the state’s senior senator, versus 54 percent, who do not. By contrast, fellow Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul’s approval index is 46:39 percent. When asked whether the respondents hold a higher opinion of Sen. Paul or McConnell, by a 42-24 percent split the group responded Paul.
Right now, the Democrats do not have a viable candidate to challenge the Republican leader. If first-term Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes were to run — an alternative that she has not ruled but is not likely to pursue — McConnell would lead her 45-41 percent. If defeated representative Ben Chandler (D-KY-6), for example, were to become the Democratic nominee, the senator would lead him by a similar 46-41 percent margin. Chandler also gives no indication that he will enter the race.
Though McConnell is unpopular, he still fares reasonably well in ballot tests against the most viable potential Democratic opponents. Unless a top-tier challenger comes forward, McConnell must still be rated as a clear favorite for re-election.