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« Rethinking McCain | Blog Home Page | Morning Thoughts: Calendar Concerns »

McConnell In Trouble?

Republicans crowed recently when a Nevada poll showed public opinion of Sen. Harry Reid, the Democratic leader, tanking. But Reid doesn't face voters until 2010. A new poll, conducted by Research 2000, shows Democrats the MoveOn crowd, which has for months blasted Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell, Reid's GOP counterpart, with negative ads, may have a point -- the Republican leader's reelection numbers are less than stellar.

The poll, conducted 10/22-24, surveyed 600 likely voters for a +/- 4% margin of error. The Lexington Herald-Leader and WTVQ-TV commissioned the survey, which tested McConnell against Rep. Ben Chandler, Attorney General Greg Stumbo, State Auditor Crit Luallen and 2006 Congressional candidate Andrew Horne.

General Election Matchups
(All / Men / Wom / Dem / GOP / Ind)
McConnell 46 / 50 / 42 / 14 / 84 / 42
Chandler 41 / 38 / 44 / 71 / 7 / 42

McConnell 46 / 49 / 43 / 14 / 84 / 43
Stumbo 37 / 35 / 39 / 65 / 7 / 34

McConnell 45 / 50 / 40 / 14 / 82 / 42
Luallen 40 / 36 / 44 / 70 / 7 / 41

McConnell 45 / 49 / 41 / 14 / 81 / 44
Horne 34 / 32 / 36 / 59 / 6 / 35

McConnell's favorability rating stands at 47%, compared with 46% who view him unfavorably. With so few people undecided about McConnell, his path to re-election is made easier by virtue of the fact that the state's senior senator need not introduce himself to the electorate again. He can simply spend his time and money driving up an opponent's unfavorable rating.

Still, if Democrats managed to recruit either Chandler or Luallen, the seat could become one of the important Senate races to watch next year. Chandler and Luallen have favorability ratings of 57% and 56%, respectively. McConnell also does not begin a campaign with great job approval numbers. Just 45% approve of his performance, while 46% disapprove, including 53% of independents and 61% of self-described moderates.

The race would be an uphill battle for Democrats. But it's not the Matterhorn -- and some party activists, remembering the 2004 campaign, in which former Rep. John Thune knocked off then-Democratic leader Tom Daschle in South Dakota, with the assistance of then-Majority Leader Bill Frist, may be spoiling for enough of a fight that they'll try anything to beat McConnell.