9/7: Kentucky: McConnell Leads Grimes by 8 Points in Race for U.S. Senate

In the contest for U.S. Senate in Kentucky, incumbent Senator Mitch McConnell, 47%, has an eight point advantage over his Democratic challenger, Alison Lundergan Grimes, 39%, among likely voters including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate.  Libertarian candidate David Patterson receives a notable 8%.

McConnell, 45%, has a similar lead over Grimes, 38%, among registered voters statewide including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate.  Nine percent of registered voters support Patterson.  In May’s NBC News/Marist Poll of Kentucky, McConnell and Grimes were neck and neck, 46% to 45%, respectively.

McConnell is doing well despite the fact that the contest for U.S. Senate is taking place within a political environment marred by frustration with the nation’s elected officials.  More than six in ten Kentuckians are dissatisfied with the job performances of both the Democrats and Republicans in Congress, and a similar proportion disapproves of how President Barack Obama is doing his job.  Registered voters in Kentucky plan to use this November’s elections to send a message to their elected officials.  More than four in ten Kentuckians want the Republicans to control Congress in order to check the president’s power.  In contrast, about one-third would like Democrats elected to the House of Representatives and for the Democrats to maintain control of the Senate to tell Republicans they need to cooperate with President Obama.  About one in seven want to toss out incumbents, regardless of political party.

On the state level, Kentuckians are pleased with the job performance of Governor Steve Beshear.

Complete September 7, 2014 NBC News/Marist Poll of Kentucky

“Democratic hopes of toppling GOP Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to counter expected losses elsewhere is not panning out,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.  “McConnell is getting a larger share of Democrats than Grimes is getting of Republicans.  McConnell has an advantage among independent voters.”

Poll points:

  • Among likely voters in Kentucky including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate, 47% are for McConnell while 39% are for Grimes in the race for U.S. Senate in Kentucky.  Libertarian candidate David Patterson garners 8%.  Only 6% are undecided.
  • While a partisan divide exists, 18% of Democratic likely voters support McConnell compared with only 7% of Republicans likely to vote who back Grimes.  McConnell also has the backing of a plurality of independent voters, 41% to 34% for Grimes.  Patterson receives 17%.
  • McConnell leads Grimes by nearly two to one, 60% to 31%, among married men, and has a seven point lead among married women.  In contrast, McConnell and Grimes are closely matched among single men, 42% to 41%.  Grimes leads 47% to 34% for McConnell among single women.
  • A majority of likely voters in Kentucky with a candidate preference, 56%, strongly supports their choice of candidate.  34% somewhat support their choice, and only 9% report they might vote differently.  63% of Grimes backers strongly support her compared with 55% of McConnell’s supporters.
  • Neither candidate is viewed favorably by likely voters in Kentucky.  48% report they have an unfavorable view of McConnell, and 45% say they have a favorable view of him.  Among Kentucky residents, 40% think well of McConnell while 48% have a lesser impression of him.  In May, 39% of adults had a positive opinion of McConnell, and 45% had a negative one.
  • Looking at Grimes’ favorable rating, likely voters in the state also divide.  43% have a negative view of her, and 41% have a positive one.  Among Kentuckians, overall, 36% think well of Grimes while 39% have a lesser view of her.  While Grimes’ positives among residents have not changed since May, her negative rating has gone up 16 points from 23%.

Kentuckians Displeased with Washington Pols

  • Nearly two-thirds of Kentucky residents, 65%, disapprove of how the Republicans in Congress are doing their job.  Even a plurality of Republicans, 45%, shares this view.
  • The Democrats in Congress don’t fare much better.  62% of Kentucky adults view the job performance of congressional Democrats as subpar.  47% of Democrats approve of how the Democrats are performing, and 43% disapprove.
  • Many Kentucky adults, 61%, also voice displeasure with how President Obama is doing his job, and only 31% approveIn May, 55% of residents disapproved of Obama’s job performance, and 33% approved.
  • As a result of this November’s elections, a plurality of registered voters statewide, 44%, wants Republicans to gain control of Congress to keep the president’s power in check.  35% want the Democrats to control the Senate and gain more seats in the House to send a message to the GOP that they need to work with President Obama.  14% say they don’t care which party controls Congress; they just want to unseat the incumbents.
  • However, many residents, 64%, are satisfied with the job of Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear.

More than Six in Ten Have Negative Opinion of Obamacare

  • 61% of Kentucky residents have an unfavorable opinion of Obamacare.  Dissatisfaction is up slightly from 56% in May.  31% have a positive impression of Obamacare, and 8% are unsure.
  • When it comes to Kynect, Kentucky’s Health Insurance Marketplace, a majority of Kentuckians have either never heard of the program, 32%, or are unsure how to rate it, 19%.  33% have a favorable view of Kynect while 17% have an unfavorable impression of it.
  • Half of Kentuckians, including 45% who strongly have this view, think the health care law is a bad idea.  About one-third, 33%, says it is a good one.  This includes 24% who strongly feel this way.

Bill Clinton Viewed Positively by Many in Kentucky… Divide over Romney

  • More than six in ten likely voters, 61%, have a favorable impression of former President Bill Clinton, and 35% have an unfavorable view of him.
  • Former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney receives mixed reviews in the state.  45% of likely voters have a favorable opinion of Romney while 41% have an unfavorable one.  Looking at Kentucky adults, overall, 42% have a negative view of Romney while 41% have a positive one. However, Romney is very popular among Republicans.  65% have a favorable impression of him, and 21% have an unfavorable one.

Increased Pessimism about the Direction of the Country

  • Close to three in four Kentucky residents, 74%, think the nation is moving in the wrong direction.  This is an increase in the proportion of Kentuckians who had this view.  In May, 66% of adults statewide reported the country was off-track.  While most Republicans, 91%, and independents, 78%, have this view, a majority of Democrats, 55%, also believes the country needs a new direction.

Marist Poll Methodology

Nature of the Sample and Complete Tables