In a bitter race that’s gaining national attention, Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell appears to keeping his slight lead over businessman and Democratic challenger Bruce Lunsford. Forty-seven percent of likely Kentucky voters say they would vote for McConnell versus 43 percent for Lunsford, according to a new poll by WKYT-TV and The Lexington Herald-Leader.
McConnell is seeking his fifth term in the Senate. For more than two decades, he’s headed off numerous Democrats which included current Gov. Steve Beshear during a 1996 matchup. In 2006, McConnell became the Senate minority leader making him the highest ranking Republican in Congress.
Lunsford, a Louisville businessman, is trying to capitalize on the recent economic crisis, fallout from the controversial Congressional rescue plan, and McConnell’s Republican ties to an unpopular President Bush.
But McConnell is running his campaign on what he calls experience in Washington and results. Last year as the leader of the minority party in the United States Senate, your Senator -- the guy you’re looking at -- delivered $500 million for the Commonwealth,” McConnell told supporters at a rally in his bid to tout his influence in Washington.
Lunsford says that number is inflated. “I think it's nice that after five years and fifty-weeks, he's going to spent two weeks on vacation here to get to meet everybody,” Lunsford told reporters recently about how he thinks his campaign is cause for concern for the McConnell camp.
While other recent polls have found the McConnell-Lunsford closer or tied, the WKYT/The Herald-Leader poll did reveal that Lunsford has gained ground since a similar poll in May.
Poll results from October and May
Mitch McConnell: 47% (October), 48% (May)
Bruce Lunsford: 43% (October), 36% (May)
Undecided: 10% (October), 14% (May)
The WKYT/The Herald-Leader poll found men and women were split between the two candidates. More than half of the men polled (51 percent) preferred McConnell over Lunsford (43 percent). But among female likely voters, Lunsford had a 46-43 advantage over McConnell.
Along racial lines, 53 percent of white voters say they would vote for McConnell versus just five percent of African-Americans. The poll found Lunsford would garner 73 percent of the African-American vote.
With the exception of the third Congressional district which is solely made up of Louisville, the poll revealed that McConnell leads Lunsford in all regions of the state. McConnell’s strongest support was in the second Congressional district which includes suburban Louisville, Elizabethtown, Bowling Green and Owensboro.
WKYT and The Herald-Leader conducted the poll with the assistance of Research 2000 of Olney, Md. Between October 19 and 21, a total of 600 likely voters were interviewed statewide telephone.
Those interviewed were selected by the random variation of the last four digits of telephone numbers. A cross section of exchanges was utilized to ensure and accurate reflection of the state. Quotas were assigned to reflect the voter registration of distribution by county.
The margin of error, according to standards customarily used by statisticians, is no more than plus or minus four percentage points. This means there is a 95 percent probability that the “true” figure would fall within that range if the entire population were sampled. The margin of error is higher for any subgroup, such as gender or party affiliation.