Kentucky Senate Race - Three Polls

A new cn|2 poll released yesterday shows the Senate race in between Democrat Jack Conway and Republican Rand Paul in the Commonwealth of Kentucky to be a statistical dead heat. When asked which candidate they would support if the election were today, 41.7 percent of likely Kentucky voters said Conway and 41.2 percent picked Paul. 16.4 percent remain undecided. The survey of 801 voters was conducted August 16 through 18. The poll has a margin of error of 3.46 points.

The results reflect a 10-point jump for Conway from the last statewide cn|2 poll taken August 2-4. Support for Paul has held steady at around 41 percent mark since June in the cn|2 polls.

However, a Rasmussen Reports poll of about 500 voters interviewed by an automated system released on Wednesday showed Paul with a 49-40 lead over Conway. Four percent prefer another candidate, and seven percent are undecided In all Rasmussen poll to date since January, Paul has received between 46 percent and 50 percent support in match-ups with Conway. During the same period, Conway has earned between 34% and 42% of the vote.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Tuesday fell right in the middle of these two polls. This poll gave Paul, a Tea Party favorite, a five point lead over Conway. Paul garnered 45 percent to Conway's 40 percent.

Meanwhile, the National Journal reports that the DSCC is planning a $1.3 million ad buy in Kentucky for a statewide campaign on Conway's behalf. According the National Journal, Democrats are privately acknowledging that the races in Kentucky and Missouri are the party's best chances to pick up Senate seats. Democrats cite Rand Paul's openly libertarian views in a state that relies on government funding has cost him some support as providing an opening. The Democrats have also been hammering away at his recent comment downplaying the drug problem in eastern Kentucky.

In an interview with a local television station, Paul dismissed the drug problem in Eastern Kentucky as "not a real pressing issue."

The state's largest newspaper, the Lexington Courier-Journal, responded to Paul's off-the-cuff dismissal of the drug problem in eastern Kentucky in a blistering editorial:

When Rand Paul, the sort-of Republican and very-much tea party Senate candidate in Kentucky, rails about the deficit, he's talking about the red ink in Washington.

That's a legitimate issue, even if Dr. Paul's approach would make matters worse, but it's not the only deficit that should concern Kentucky voters. They should also contemplate the knowledge deficit that Dr. Paul seems to have regarding Kentucky.

Some of Dr. Paul's gaps may seem like small potatoes at first glance.

On a campaign swing to Harlan County in May with a reporter from Details magazine, for example, Dr. Paul appeared unaware of the coal county's strife-ridden history of union organizing struggles. The decade of the 1930s was so violent — frequent gun battles (including the infamous Battle of Evarts in 1931), starvation deaths in coal camps and sheriffs and law-enforcement officers who were no more than company strike-breakers — that the county earned the nickname of “Bloody Harlan.”

But the issue here is not whether Dr. Paul would be able to answer a “Jeopardy” question about Harlan's past. It's about whether an aspiring United States senator from Kentucky understands that coal is not, and never has been, just another industry in this state. When Dr. Paul speaks flippantly about how “accidents happen” — as he has in discussing mining fatalities — he betrays a lack of awareness of the tragic price in blood that has been paid for rapacious mining practices and inadequate regulation. And that's before one ponders the environmental predations associated with mining.

And one can add to that list Dr. Paul's astonishing recent assertion that drugs are not “a real pressing issue” in Eastern Kentucky. Really? Does Dr. Paul, a physician, not understand that the methamphetamine and prescription pill scourges in the mountains and rural areas are not remotely the same thing as a few young people sharing a marijuana joint? Voters in communities that feel under siege — including their Republican officials — surely will not share Dr. Paul's view that federal funds for undercover investigations and for drug treatment programs should be cut.

Similarly, Kentucky farmers, who receive $250 million or more each year in federal agricultural subsidies, might want to reflect upon what Dr. Paul's opposition to those payments might mean to them in a poor state.

Dr. Paul, if he becomes Sen. Paul, would doubtless win some applause back home with boilerplate speeches denouncing the Obama administration and Washington spending. But the reality of the Senate is that few people pay any attention to the bombast of newcomers.

Senators of whatever tenure, however, are expected to represent the interests of their states. Does Dr. Paul know enough about Kentucky to do that?

Tags: Kentucky Senate Race, Jack Conway, rand paul, libertarianism, right wing extremism (all tags)

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