GOP firm's poll: McConnell in statistical tie with Democrat in Kentucky, leads Bevin by 42 points in primary

Similar to last week’s lackluster result from Survey USA. Unless Bevin catches fire, looks like the best-case scenario for the GOP is an exhausting dogfight to the bitter end between McConnell and Grimes that sucks in untold millions of establishment dollars aimed at protecting the Senate minority leader. Again — that’s the best-case scenario. The worst-case scenario, that that dogfight ends in decisive defeat, comes from Sean Davis:

Three of the four Kentucky polls taken so far this year have come from left- or right-leaning pollsters but the topline numbers have been roughly consistent. Two have McConnell up by one, one has the race a dead heat, and the fourth has Grimes up by four. Today’s data, as Davis notes, may be overstating McConnell’s support, if anything. Survey USA had his favorable rating at 27/50, which makes sense given that the entirety of the left and now a sizable chunk of the right consider him an enemy. Wenzel Strategies, the pollster behind this morning’s data, has his favorables at 50/47, which makes … less sense. This race may become for the GOP establishment what Wendy Davis’s race is for abortion warriors — an exceedingly challenging cause celebre that sucks money away from more winnable races.

Solution: Nominate Matt Bevin instead? He does roughly as well against Grimes as McConnell does (trailing by two instead of leading by one) and some polls have shown him outperforming him in the general against her. The risk would be that, as an unknown, he’d be easier for Democrats to define and marginalize than a bigger name like Mitch the Knife, but then that was also true of Rand Paul circa 2010 and he did okay. And yet, despite conservative groups attacking McConnell relentlessly, he still leads Bevin 59/17 in the new Wenzel data and 55/29 in Survey USA’s data last week. Why is that? I get that he’s still all but unknown to voters, but that shouldn’t matter this much; he’s running as Not Mitch McConnell, after all. You don’t need to know his name to signal your preference for ousting McConnell in a poll.

This isn’t helping either:

Matt Bevin, campaigning for Kentucky’s Senate seat in the Republican primary, said his signature on a document expressing support for the 2008 Wall Street bailouts was just a formality. But legal experts — including Bevin’s own lawyer — are dismissing the excuse.

“As a general matter if you put your signature on anything you would be at least acknowledging you don’t have a major issue with the content,” Wade R. Bridge, the attorney listed on Bevin’s 2008 filing, told Breitbart News…

“It may be true that he signed as a CEO but it would be an odd thing for a CEO to disagree with a letter that he signed and sent to the company’s shareholders or a filing that was made with the SEC,” [Cornell law prof Charles] Whitehead told Breitbart News…

Several sources told Breitbart News that the SEC would consider that the signators of the cover letter are attesting to its contents.

Securities law experts said the same thing to National Review and the Weekly Standard. (“If you express an opinion you do not hold, you violate the securities laws.”) Either Bevin’s lying when he says he opposed TARP from the beginning or he’s telling the truth but ended up on the wrong side of proper securities practice. Probably won’t matter to Not Mitch McConnell voters, but as time wears on, I think tea-party voters increasingly look at primary challengers from the following baseline: “Is this guy more Mike Lee or more Christine O’Donnell?” I.e. is this someone worth risking a seat Republicans already hold on or is this someone likely to implode in the general? Bevin’s TARP position won’t matter a bit after the primaries, but I bet he’s on a shorter leash in some GOP voters’ minds in terms of permissible mistakes than he would have been if he was running in 2010 or 2012.

Exit question: Let’s say McConnell leads Bevin by three points with a week to go before the primary and he tells Rand Paul he badly needs him to come home and do some campaigning. What does Rand do?