Daniel Doherty

The Bluegrass Poll is a mixed bag for Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY). On the one hand, he leads his GOP primary challenger by 26 percentage points. On the other, he’s trailing his Democratic opponent for the first time ever, according to RCP:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell trails Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes by 4 percentage points in this year’s U.S. Senate race, 46-42, according to the latest Bluegrass Poll of registered statewide voters.

And, according to the poll, McConnell’s biggest problem may be himself — only 27 percent of Kentuckians hold a favorable opinion of the five-term incumbent, while 50 percent said they had an unfavorable view. And only 43 percent of conservatives, who McConnell is courting heavily, said they had a favorable opinion of him.

Startlingly, in Kentucky, President Obama’s job-approval rating is higher than Sen. McConnell’s. How is this even possible?

Moreover, McConnell’s job-approval rating in Kentucky is worse than President Barack Obama’s, despite the fact that the president is wildly unpopular here, losing the state overwhelmingly in 2008 and 2012. Sixty percent of Kentuckians said they disapprove of the jobs Obama and McConnell are doing, but they gave Obama a slightly higher approval rating — 34 percent to 32 percent for McConnell.

The pollsters note that because Grimes is relatively unknown (47 percent of respondents say they either have a “neutral” opinion of her or no opinion at all), she’s capable of making real inroads with voters. By contrast, McConnell has been around Washington politics for a very long time, and is inextricably bound to a legislative body almost universally despised by the general public:

Among likely voters, McConnell and Grimes have virtually identical favorability ratings in the poll, 27 percent for McConnell and 26 percent for Grimes.

But McConnell's 50 percent unfavorability rating is nearly twice Grimes' 27 percent unfavorability rating.

"So half of Kentucky has no opinion of Grimes whatsoever," Leve explained.

"McConnell's job is to take that half of the electorate and turn them into Grimes antagonists," Leve continued. "Her job, obviously, is to take that half of the electorate and turn them into Grimes advocates. And therein lies the rub... where the contest will be decided."

Nevertheless, McConnell isn’t down for the count yet. He’s got Rand Paul’s endorsement in his back pocket; plus, Obamacare remains spectacularly unpopular:

By a narrow, four percent margin, Kentucky favors repealing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. 49% say repeal, 44% say fix as needed.

Nearly half of all respondents want to repeal Obamacare. Amazing. This is why Team McConnell will continue tying Grimes & Co. to this unpopular and unworkable law.


Daniel Doherty

Daniel Doherty is Townhall's Deputy News Editor. Follow him on Twitter @danpdoherty.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography