Thursday, May 29, 2008

Realclearpolitics Weighs in on McConnell Poll

Realclearpolitics analyzes the dueling polls on Kentucky's U.S. Senate race and concludes that McConnell looks safe:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has been advertising since late last year in advance of this November's vote, and he is determined not to find himself in dire straits come the Fall. While former Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle fell victim to the rival party a few years ago, McConnell looks like he's in much better position than his erstwhile colleague, a new poll for the incumbent's campaign shows.

The Voter/Consumer Research poll, conducted for McConnell, surveyed 600 likely voters between 5/21-22 for a margin of error of +/- 4%. McConnell and two-time gubernatorial candidate and businessman Bruce Lunsford, the Democratic nominee, were tested.
General Election MatchupMcConnell....50 (-2 from last, 1/9)Lunsford......39 (+2)

While it is a partisan poll, VCR is a well-respected firm, and McConnell's lead shouldn't be surprising. A robo-poll company released a survey last week showing the two virtually tied, and to be fair, an 11-point lead is not a huge one for the top Senate Republican to have. But McConnell is well-liked; 55% of state voters have a favorable opinion of him, compared with just 32% who see him unfavorably, and 57% approve of his job performance.

Both the favorable rating and job performance rating are down slightly since January, but one would expect that given Democrats' slamming him throughout the primary season. Lunsford has shown some growth, as 34% of the state has a favorable image of him, up eleven points since January. Just 20% have an unfavorable view.

With 46% of voters undecided about Lunsford, McConnell has a big opening through which to define his new rival. While Lunsford will have plenty of money to spend given his own deep pockets and willingness to use them, McConnell could further dip into the $7.7 million war chest he had on hand at the end of April to run Lunsford's negatives through the roof.

National Democrats could use some of their financial advantage to cut McConnell's money advantage, and Lunsford will likely be well-funded himself. But causing the incumbent serious heartburn may take a lot more work.

I don't see national Democrats pouring money into a state that has rejected Barack Obama as decisively as Kentucky. The whole reason DSCC chair Chuck Schumer recruited Bruce Lunsford, after all, is because national Dems did not want to spend money in Kentucky and therefore needed a self-funder like millionaire Lunsford.

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