LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - As talk swirls about a possible presidential bid, Kentucky voters are divided over whether Sen. Rand Paul is doing a good job on Capitol Hill.
A new Bluegrass Poll – conducted for WKYT-TV, the Lexington Herald-Leader, the Louisville Courier-Journal, and WHAS-TV – found 46 percent of voters approve of the junior senator’s performance while 45 percent disapprove.
“Sen. Paul stirs strong feelings from both those who agree with him and those who disagree with his stands. He often says he is interested in starting conversations among people about where the state and the country are headed. His numbers somewhat reflect the divide we have right now on how to approach the future," said WKYT political editor Bill Bryant.
Paul’s approval was strongest among men, those over 50 years old, white voters, conservatives, and people earning more than $40,000 a year. Voters in western and eastern Kentucky gave a stronger approval than other regions in the state.
Elected in 2010, Paul has been an outspoken critic in Washington on topics ranging from federal spending to health care.
As the nation wrestled with the government shutdown and a fight over raising the nation's debt limit, Paul found himself in the middle of the action.
He called for repeal of the Affordable Care Act and voted against the deal worked out by fellow Kentucky senator and Republican leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic leader Harry Reid.
As he considers a 2016 presidential run, a third of Kentuckians polled say they think he should make a run for the White House while 24 percent prefer for him to run re-election to the Senate. Under current state laws, he can’t run for both offices which are up during the same election. However, 23 percent of those polled think he should be able to run for both simultaneously. Sixteen perfect think he should bow out of politics.
“Republicans in the state do seem to be slowly warming to the idea of him running,” said The Herald-Leader political writer Sam Youngman. “I expect that to change if he makes the decision to run. I do think you will see some state pride, especially within the Republican Party as he nears a run. If he look like he is going to run, I think people will get onboard.”
For the poll, SurveyUSA interviewed 1,200 adults with home phones and cell phones between January 30 and Tuesday. Of the adults, 1,082 were registered to vote in the state with 404 being registered Republicans eligible to vote in the May Republican primary. Primary questions asked only of Republicans. Other questions were asked of all registered voters.