LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - With more than 15 months to go, the three likely candidates in the race to be Kentucky's next governor must battle the fact that more than half of Kentuckians don't have an opinion or are neutral about each of them.
A new Bluegrass Poll conducted for WKYT-TV, the Lexington Herald-Leader, the Louisville Courier-Journal, and WHAS-TV found Attorney General Jack Conway had the highest favorable opinion among those surveyed about their impressions of him, Louisville Metro councilman Hal Heiner, and Agriculture Commissioner James Comer.
"Obviously it's early and voters will learn more about the candidates over time," said WKYT political editor Bill Bryant. "Conway is best known thanks to having three statewide campaigns under his belt. These numbers show that Heiner and Comer will have to become better known ,and they'll hope to make positive impressions as they do."
Conway's 17-percent unfavorable opinion was the highest among the three men as well. Going into the 2015 governor's race, Bryant says the Democratic attorney general is the most well-known because of his recent high-profile, headline-grabbing failed battle against now Sen. Rand Paul and his emotional decision to not appeal a judge's order for Kentucky to recognize same-sex marriages from other states and countries.
On the Republican side, Heiner is already running blasting the airwaves with commercials to get his name out there. Familiarity and name cognition are two of his challenges. The Bluegrass Poll found 11 percent have a favorable opinion of the Louisville metro councilman and 12 percent had an unfavorable opinion. The vast majority either were neutral or had no opinion.
Comer who has not officially announced his campaign took the reigns of the Kentucky Agriculture Commission after basketball star-turned-politician Richie Farmer's scandal-filled reign. Comer has hinted at a run for the state's highest office. The poll found Comer's favorable score was 15 percent versus eight percent unfavorable, but three out of every four people were neutral or had no opinion of him.
SurveyUSA interviewed 800 state of Kentucky adults July 18 through July 23. Of the adults, 714 were registered to vote. Of the registered, 604 were determined by SurveyUSA to be likely to vote in the November 4 election for U.S. Senate. This research was conducted using blended sample, mixed mode. Respondents reachable on a home telephone (73 percent of likely voters) were interviewed on their home telephone in the recorded voice of a professional announcer. Respondents not reachable on a home telephone (27 percent of likely voters) were shown a questionnaire on their smartphone, tablet or other electronic device.