News & Election Videos

September 29, 2008

McConnell In A Dead Heat?

If a new poll out of the Bluegrass State is accurate, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will want to get back to Kentucky in a hurry to shore up his re-election prospects.

The Bluegrass Poll, conducted by Mason-Dixon for the Louisville Courier-Journal, surveyed 717 likely voters between 9/22-25 for a margin of error of +/- 3.7%. McConnell and Democratic businessman Bruce Lunsford were tested.

General Election Matchup
(With leaners)
McConnell...........45
Lunsford............44

Kentuckyans are deeply unhappy with the direction of the country, with 85% saying they think things are off of the wrong track. That's the largest number of respondents disappointed with the direction of the country since the Courier-Journal started the poll in 1990, Joseph Gerth reported on Saturday.

It's also the same trend that is harming incumbents across the country. Just 18% approve of the job Congress is doing, according to the latest RCP Average, while only 14% think the country is headed in the right direction. And while more people always approve of their own member of Congress than of Congress as a whole, even incumbents' numbers are dropping this year.

The good news for McConnell is that his supporters seem to be happier with their candidate than Lunsford's are with the Democrat. About 60% of McConnell backers are strong supporters, while 43% of Lunsford voters feel the same way. That enthusiasm gap could give McConnell a boost among voters more interested in the presidential contest who then skip down-ballot races.

Most political observers expect McConnell to win this year, but he's not taking anything for granted. In an interview with The Scorecard at the Republican convention this month, McConnell said he would be running a "very aggressive campaign," and that he recognized being the GOP leader could make him vulnerable, especially as outside groups like MoveOn.org get involved in his race. "Being minority leader makes me a much bigger target," he said. "A lot of people now would like to see me lose who didn't know my name a couple of years ago."