The top Republican senator is locked in a dead heat with Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes, according to the July 19 Human Events/Gravis poll of 1,054 registered Kentucky voters.
Sen. A. Mitchell McConnell and Grimes are both polling at 45 percent, said Doug Kaplan, the president of Gravis Marketing, the Florida-based firm that conducted the poll. The poll carries a 3 percent margin of error. Grimes, an attorney, is Kentucky’s Secretary of State.
“With only 10 percent of the voters undecided, it is hard to see either candidate breaking out,” he said. “It really looks like it will be close through to the end with the decision turning on turnout.”
Kaplan said Kentucky has a higher percentage of Democrats for a southern state, which explains why President Barack Obama has a relatively high approval rating of 32 percent compared to elsewhere in the South. “The president is not as heavy a drag on Democrats as people outside the state might expect.”
The immigration crisis on the Mexican border is a possible wild card, he said.
“If the federal government brings to the state border crossers tied to the surge on the Mexican border, the Democrats will be in a tough spot,” he said. “Only 12 percent of respondents support bringing them to Kentucky, 72 percent are opposed, which is pretty extreme for a state that tends to play things in the middle.”
Allison Moore, a spokeswoman for the McConnell campaign, said the Human Events/Gravis poll was at odds with the campaign’s own poll results.
Team Mitch conducted a poll of 807 likely voters from June 22 to June 25 that showed the Republican Senate Leader leading Grimes 49 percent to 42 percent, she said. The McConnell campaign poll carries a margin of error of 3 percent.
“Senator McConnell is well positioned for re-election in Kentucky and every day his campaign is growing stronger with the support of those who now understand that a vote for Alison Lundergan Grimes is a vote for Barack Obama,” she said.
“While Mitch McConnell was fighting for Kentucky families Alison Lundergan Grimes was fighting to re-elect Barack Obama and support his platform, which has devastated Kentucky’s economy,” she said.o
Kaplan said the poll also pitted Sen. Randal H. “Rand” Paul (R.-Ky.) against two possible Democrats rivals for the White House: former secretary of state Hillary R. Clinton and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D.-Mass).
In both polls, Paul came out on top, beating Clinton 50 percent to 44 percent, he said. Paul was the choice of 52 percent respondents over the 34 percent favoring Warren.
In the governor’s race Democrat John W. “Jack” Conway, the state’s attorney general, is ahead of Republican Hal Heiner, a Louisville developer: Conway 45 percent v. Heiner 36 percent.