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Well, well, well the race in Kentucky gets all the more interesting.  A new poll by Public Policy Polling, commissioned by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America, shows Democratic challenger up by one point against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

This is obviously good news for Democrats and before I talk about the downside of the poll, let’s promote the good first.  First off, even though its an internal poll, this does further the argument that Alison Lundergan Grimes will be competitive with Mitch McConnell.  She has rolled out her campaign nicely thus far and I think she has done well enough to become a national name to Democrats across the country.

Another positive is that this poll shows McConnell’s favorability rating at 40% which, if accurate, is a drop from the 44% that McConnell employed in late May.

The downside is though that this is an internal poll and we have yet to see the favorability of Grimes (possibly we will see it later) and how many people know her or not across the state.  That is key to see if Grimes is personally popular (which is good news) or if McConnell is losing just because he’s unpopular (and if Grimes is unknown still, McConnell can drag her down).

This poll was also commissioned before the entrance of McConnell’s primary challenger Matt Bevin who apparently has some Tea Party support already.  That might be more of a positive for McConnell though than a negative for Grimes as certainly Bevin will attack McConnell on the airwaves.

It is also an internal poll and while PPP has a great track record, you always have to assume that there is slight bias in commissioned polls.  There’s no science to it, but I liked to always knock off about a couple points in internals but that’s more of an assumption than a science.

It also appears we are starting to see a wide array of opinions on the Senate race.  Earlier last week, Wenzel Strategies (a Republican firm) had McConnell up by 8 points against Grimes (48-40) and up by nearly 40 against Bevin in a primary.  But the rule of party-biased polls still is in effect when we look at this one as it is hard to believe that McConnell has a 53% approval rating which seems awfully generous.

Nonetheless, we have a few different pictures being painted in Kentucky.  The questions to look at now are:

  • Can Grimes fundraise?  We know McConnell can and we assume Bevin will, but Grimes will need to put up the money because she will need it.  McConnell’s war chest is already huge and will only grow.
  • Will Bevin make a difference?  He is more noteworthy of a challenger than just some guy who files with the FEC, but is this just another J.D. Hayworth or a legitimate threat?

This race is just getting started but I would say it leans Republican at the moment which is slightly more favorable to Democrats versus ‘likely Republican”.  Instead of just “keeping tabs” on this race, I recommend Democrats to really follow what goes on here.  Grimes may not be Elizabeth Warren in the Senate but she will be a better voice than Mitch McConnell as well as a good voice for Kentucky.

Let’s help her out.

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