LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - In an hypothetical head-to-head match-up in 2016, a new Bluegrass Poll finds Republican Sen. Rand Paul leading former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton among Kentucky voters.
The poll - conducted for WKYT-TV, the Lexington Herald-Leader, the Louisville Courier-Journal, and WHAS-TV - found Paul carries Kentucky today, 48 to 44 percent.
The first time senator from Kentucky and Tea Party-favorite and former first lady are creating buzz about their potential campaigns for the presidency.
The poll found Paul's lead in Kentucky over Clinton was largely based on a 25-point gender gap. Men back Paul by 17 points while women back Clinton by eight points, according to the poll.
On Friday, Paul was testing the waters for a presidential bid will venture across the Ohio River for appearances in neighboring swing state Ohio. He was scheduled to speak at the Hamilton County Republican Party's annual Lincoln-Reagan dinner and participate in a school choice discussion at a Cincinnati charter school.
Meanwhile, Clinton told crowds in Washington the dream of upward mobility feels further and further out of reach for many Americans struggling in the economy. The potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidate offered her most extensive remarks on promoting economic growth since leaving the State Department. She pointed to the need to promote policies to help struggling workers and young Americans find jobs and get training.
Clinton told the New America Foundation that instead of getting ahead, many Americans are finding it "harder than ever to get their footing." She said the economy is growing under President Barack Obama but the nation needs "big ideas" and to work together to find ways "to make pragmatic decisions."
Despite being re-elected, Obama has done little to win over the state's voters. The Bluegrass Poll found 57 percent with an unfavorable opinion of the President.
A slight majority (52 percent) of Kentuckians polled would support a constitutional amendment to restore the voting rights of felons. Thirty-four percent were opposed compared to 14 unsure.
Despite Sen. Rand Paul’s urging of the passage of the measure saying voting rights are “sacred,” state legislatures did not grant final approval for the plan to appear on Kentucky's November ballot. Voters would have decided whether to amend the state constitution to automatically restore voting rights for some felons who completed their sentences and terms of probation.
Felons now can have their right to vote restored in Kentucky by petitioning the governor.
For the poll, SurveyUSA interviewed 2,000 Kentucky adults May 14 to 16. Of the adults, 1,782 were registered to vote. Of the registered, 747 were registered Republicans, and of them, 605 were determined by SurveyUSA to be likely to vote in the May 20 Republican Primary, 1,475 were determined to be likely to vote in the November 4 general election. This survey was conducted using blended sample, mixed mode. Respondents reachable on a home telephone were interviewed on their home telephone in the recorded voice of a professional announcer. Respondents not reachable on a home telephone were shown a questionnaire on their smartphone, tablet or other electronic device.