A new Herald-Leader/WKYT Bluegrass Poll, conducted by SurveyUSA, finds Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes leading Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell 46 percent to 42 percent among registered voters.
The four-point lead is within the Bluegrass Poll's margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent.
In the May 20, 2014 primary battle, McConnell leads his Republican challenger Matt Bevin, 55 percent to 29 percent margin among registered Republicans. But Bevin does almost as well as McConnell against Grimes, trailing her by five points — 43 percent to 38 percent. That is within the poll's 4.9 percent margin of error for the primary.
Bevin, hasn't gained any traction, despite support from some TEA Party groups. Only 10 percent have a favorable view of Bevin, while 17 percent have an unfavorable view. That leaves three-fourths of the voters are neutral or have no opinion of Bevin.
In the most troubling sign for McConnell, the poll finds his job-approval rating was two points below the 34 percent approval rating the poll found for President Obama. Both have a disapproval rating of 60 percent.
McConnell trails Grimes badly among women, 49 percent to 37 percent, and those 18-to-34 by 43 percent to 34 percent. Among self identified Moderates, 55 percent have an unfavorable view of McConnell, compared with 15 percent for Grimes.
Stephen Voss, a political science professor at the University of Kentucky, says this race is up for grabs:
"This new poll confirms that Kentucky's U.S. Senate seat is up for grabs, and that the contest here will be one of the most exciting in the country. The voters are evenly divided right now, and so many of them are still making up their minds that the contest could swing in any direction.
[. . .]
People who think McConnell is doomed because of his high negativity ratings are probably reading too much into the numbers. Many of the Kentuckians criticizing McConnell are conservative Republicans unhappy with the sorts of compromises he's been making as a Senate leader, not the sort of voters who would be willing to send President Obama another vote in the Senate. The only way most of those voters are likely to help Grimes is if they stayed home on Election Day, denying McConnell sufficient support from his party base."
This may be a close election, but November is a long way off.