Let’s put this in Kentucky Derby terms. Democrats backed the best frontrunner they had and hoped Jack Conway would take the inside track against newcomer Rand Paul. However, approaching the turn, Conway has fallen off the pace as the Republican hits his stride in the new Survey USA poll:
In an election for the open United States Senator seat from Kentucky today, 09/02/10, Republican Rand Paul defeats Democrat Jack Conway, 55% to 40%, according to a SurveyUSA poll conducted exclusively for the Louisville Courier-Journal and WHAS-TV.
Compared to an identical SurveyUSA poll released 1 month ago, Paul is up 4 points; Conway is down 3. There is important learning in the movement among men, which is consistent with SurveyUSA polling in other hi-profile 2010 state contests. Men have turned their backs on the Democrats. The Democrat Conway got 44% of male voters in May, 38% in July, 31% today, in September. See the interactive tracking graph, a SurveyUSA exclusive. The erosion in male support, observed in California polling and Washington state polling, is occurring regardless of whether there is a Tea Party candidate on the ballot.
One might call this a NASCAR Dad election, except that California and Washington aren’t known as big NASCAR states. Whatever one wants to call it, the change in Kentucky has been substantial. Conway now trails Paul more than 2-1 among men, 31/65, from 44/54 in May. He only barely edges Paul among women, 48/45. Demographically, this is the biggest problem Conway faces.
It’s not the only problem, though. Paul wins 60% of voters under 50 years of age, and 52% of voters 50 and older. He also wins 37% of the African-American vote, a surprisingly high number for a Republican candidate. Paul gets 56% of independents and 32% of Democrats, while only losing 16% of Republicans. Paul wins majorities in each of the four regions of Kentucky used in this survey. The only demographic Conway wins convincingly are among those who oppose the Tea Party, which he wins 90/8, while Paul wins Tea Party supporters (87/10), Tea Party agnostics (60/35), and people who have no opinion on it at all (45/37).
Kentucky was one of two Senate races that Democrats thought they could win by making the Tea Party an issue (the other being Nevada). So far, the Tea Party issue seems to be either favoring Paul or not playing a factor at all. The real issue in this election isn’t the Tea Party but the Democratic agenda of Barack Obama, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi, and Kentucky voters don’t want to send someone to Washington DC who will enable it.