Kentucky Bluegrass poll puts McConnell up 5 over Grimes

The Democratic project to both steal a march on a Republican wave and to avenge the loss of Tom Daschle in 2004 appears to be heading for failure. The latest Bluegrass poll from the Lexington Herald-Leader and the Louisville Courier-Journal in Kentucky shows Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell extending his lead over Alison Lundergan Grimes to five points with four days left to go. The 48/43 result improved on a virtual tie from last week, 44/43, in the same poll:

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has opened up a five-point lead over Democratic opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes and appears well positioned to win a sixth term, according to the final Bluegrass Poll before Tuesday’s election.

McConnell leads Grimes 48 percent to 43 percent in Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race, with Libertarian candidate David Patterson pulling 3 percent.

In a Bluegrass Poll released early last week, McConnell was clinging to a one-point lead, with 44 percent backing him and 43 percent choosing Grimes.

The latest poll of 597 likely voters in Kentucky was conducted by SurveyUSA between Oct. 25 and Oct. 29 on behalf of the Herald-Leader and WKYT-TV in Lexington and The Courier-Journal and WHAS-TV in Louisville. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

This poll series is conducted by Survey USA, which released the internals yesterday as well.  Interestingly, Grimes still has a slight two-point lead among independents (37/35), but that’s swamped out by Democrats crossing over for McConnell — 23% of them, in fact, as opposed to 8% of Republicans. That’s a big deal in Kentucky and in this poll, especially as the sample for the survey has a D+12, 48/36/16 partisan weighting.

That’s not the only demographic problem for Grimes, either. The gender gap in this race favors McConnell entirely, as Grimes trails among women by four points and men by five. She wins younger voters below 35 by 11 points but doesn’t get a majority, thanks to a third candidate who barely registers in the other age categories. McConnell has a ten-point overall lead among voters 50 and older, while Grimes ends up with a four-point aggregate lead for those under 50. Neither candidate has positive favorability; in fact, their numbers are nearly identical at 37/44 for McConnell and 37/43 for Grimes — who manages to be underwater with women by five points, 37/42.

McConnell has now led the last four polls in the RCP tally and has a 5.5-point lead over Grimes in the average. Grimes hasn’t led in a poll since the beginning of October, and that was in this series. The last time Grimes led outside of the margin of error was a +4 in January among registered voters. The trend looks good for McConnell to return to the Senate.

According to NBC, the trend also looks good for McConnell to be the new Senate Majority Leader. NBC and Marist will release new state polling in Senate battlegrounds on Sunday, but Mark Murray provided some aggregate national numbers from their partnership with the Wall Street Journal and Annenberg over the last five weeks. The average for the generic Congressional ballot shows the GOP leading by five, and the demos look optimistic for Republicans as well:

Two of the biggest questions heading into Election Day are: “What will the electorate look like?” And: “How will these voters break?” Well, our weekly NBC/WSJ/Annenberg polls have collected merged data from interviews with 6,346 likely voters from Sept. 2 through Oct. 29, and here’s a pretty good clue from this 6,000-plus sample:

  • Overall congressional preference: GOP 49%, Dem 44%
  • Men: GOP 54%-40%
  • Women: Dem 49%-43%
  • Whites: GOP 56%-37%
  • African American: Dem 88%-7%
  • Latinos: Dem 57%-37%
  • 18-29: Dem 51%-42%
  • 30-44: Dem 50%-43%
  • 45-64: GOP 50%-43%
  • 65+: GOP 53%-40%

What is striking about these numbers is how similar they are to the 2010 exit poll, so make of that what you will.

Compare these to the exit polls from 2012’s presidential race, and one can see why Democrats would be getting very, very concerned:

  • Men: GOP 52/48
  • Women: Democrat 55/45
  • African-Americans: 93/7
  • Latinos: 71/29
  • 18-29YOs: Dem 60/40
  • 30-44s: Dem 52/48
  • 45-64s: GOP 51/49
  • 65+: GOP 56/44

Republicans have improved their performance in every single demo relative to Democrats’ standing. The tumble among Latinos has to be especially worrisome, a fall of 14 points for Democrats, but also the contraction of nearly half of their advantage among women. What’s more, there are undecideds in each of these categories, and in this environment, it’s much more likely that those will break to the GOP.

This is looking more and more like a disaster for Democrats, but there’s still four more days to go. At this point, enthusiasm and GOTV will make the difference, and Republicans had better be prepared to boost both.