Poll Shows McConnell Trailing Grimes

Poll Shows McConnell Trailing Grimes
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While Republicans may have increased their chances of retaking the Senate in recent months, their leader in the upper chamber is facing an increasingly difficult re-election bid. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell currently trails his Democratic challenger by four percentage points, according to a recent survey.

The latest Lexington Herald-Leader/WKYT Bluegrass Poll shows Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes leading the incumbent, 46 percent-42 percent. Roughly 12 percent of voters remain undecided.

McConnell’s job approval in the state stands at only 32 percent -- two points lower than President Obama’s. Only 26 percent of voters think favorably of Grimes, one point less than McConnell. (The survey draws a distinction between job approval and personal favorability.) Grimes’ low favorability ratings can be attributed to her relative anonymity, and McConnell’s campaign will attempt to define Grimes negatively in the upcoming months, when many voters will first be exposed to her.

Stephen Voss, a political science professor at the University of Kentucky, told the Herald-Leader that “voters are evenly divided right now, and so many of them are still making up their minds that the contest could swing in any direction.”

The poll does contain some good news for McConnell. He easily beats his Tea Party-backed primary challenger, Matt Bevin, 55 percent-29 percent. McConnell even leads Bevin among self-identified conservatives, as well as moderate Republicans.

The survey of 1,082 registered Kentucky voters has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points. 

Update: The Grimes campaign has welcomed the poll as a sign of momentum. Grimes spokeswoman Charly Norton asserted that the results show Kentuckians desire a senator who "who will finally put people above partisanship." 

Adam O'Neal is a political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at aoneal@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @RealClearAdam.

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