I feel a little odd as a Democratic pollster sticking up for Mitch McConnell, but if Rand Paul wins next week (as it seems likely he will) it is not going to be a repudiation of the Senate Minority Leader.
64% of the Republicans planning to vote for Paul approve of the job McConnell is doing to only 24% who disapprove. Even though Jim Bunning has endorsed Paul and McConnell hasn't, 63% of Paul voters like McConnell better to only 23% who pick Bunning. McConnell's overall approval with Republicans, at 68/19 is fine.
Paul's supporters by and large like McConnell and their votes will not be a repudiation of him. What a Paul win will show is that McConnell can't just wave his magic wand and get Republicans in the state to vote for whoever he wants in primaries for other offices but honestly is there any politician in the country who has that much power in a state?
So a Paul win will not be because voters don't like McConnell. The next explanation folks are going to want to throw out there if he wins is that it's a huge victory for the Tea Party movement. I'm not so sure about that one either though. Only 28% of Republican voters in Kentucky actively identify as members of the Tea Party and while Paul has a 19 point lead with them he also has a 17 point lead with the ones who don't consider themselves part of the movement.
The two polls we're going to do this weekend on Tuesday's races are for the PA-12 special election and the Kentucky Republican Senate primary. I am interested in your poll testable theories on why Paul is beating Grayson so badly, and we will put some of those questions on the survey to try to get a better understanding of what's driving Paul's victory. It may not be something that can easily be boiled down to numbers but it's worth a shot so please give us your suggestions!