Survey USA: Paul leads by eight in KY

Democrats initially hoped to steal a Senate seat back from the GOP in Kentucky, where Rand Paul won the nomination to succeed retiring incumbent Jim Bunning.  Paul rode a post-nomination bounce to a 25-point lead, but soon came under fire over a philosophical debate about libertarianism and the Civil Rights Act that Democrat Jack Conway attempted to exploit to knock Paul onto the defensive.  Two weeks ago, Rasmussen put Paul up by eight but below 50%, giving Democrats a path to victory.  A new Survey USA poll released today pushes Paul over the 50% mark:

In an election for United States Senator from Kentucky today, 07/30/10, Republican Rand Paul edges Democrat Jack Conway, 51% to 43%, according to a SurveyUSA poll conducted exclusively for the Louisville Courier-Journal and WHAS-TV.

Compared to an identical SurveyUSA poll 2 months ago, the contest is essentially unchanged, with Paul flat and Conway down a nominal 2 points. Paul today runs a little stronger among men, a little weaker among women, than he did in SurveyUSA’s last poll. Conway may have made up some ground in Western Kentucky, but lost some ground in Eastern Kentucky. 1 in 4 Democrats cross-over to vote Republican. Independents break 3:2 Republican.

Paul wins all of the age demographics, although within the MOE for 18-34 and 50-64 YOs.  Conway loses 25% of Democrats (as noted above) even after the nomination, while Paul loses 11% of the Republicans, and Paul holds an 18-point lead among independents.  Since bringing in some experienced help on the campaign, Paul has kept unaffiliated voters from considering him too extreme to support in a general election.  He still loses self-described “moderate” voters by 2-1, but these appear to mostly be Democrats anyway.

With an eight-point lead, support at 51%, and only 5% undecided, the race appears to be Paul’s to win.  Assuming neither candidate makes a major gaffe, Kentucky voters appear poised to keep their state firmly in the GOP column.  One has to suspect that the more Harry Reid and others in the Senate talk about cap-and-trade and carbon-tax plans that will hammer coal-dependent Kentucky, the more likely that scenario becomes.