Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Beshear up big, could have down ballot implications

It doesn't look like there's going to be much to see in the Kentucky Governor's race this year. Incumbent Steve Beshear leads by 27 points right now with 55% to 28% for Republican David Williams and 10% Gatewood Galbraith.

More than anything else this is because Williams is one of the worst candidates a party's put forth in a plausibly competitive Gubernatorial race in recent memory. Only 21% of voters have a favorable opinion of him to 54% who view him negatively. Even with Republicans he's barely seen positively by a 41/29 margin and with Democrats (9/70) and independents (16/55) there are virtually no voters with a favorable view.

Even if the GOP had a really strong candidate this might be an uphill battle though. Beshear has a 57% approval rating, with only 30% of voters giving him bad marks. Out of 42 sitting Governors PPP's polled on those numbers put Beshear in a tie for the 4th most popular with Tennessee's Bill Haslam, behind only Dave Heineman of Nebraska, Mike Beebe of Arkansas, and John Hickenlooper of Colorado. Combine one of the most popular Governors in the country with one of the worst challengers imaginable and you get this blow out race.

Beshear is winning 78% of the Democratic vote. At the same time Williams gets only 59% of Republicans, with Beshear taking 19% of those votes. And Beshear is also up big with independents, getting 51% to 25% for Williams and 14% for Galbraith.

The Governor's race is probably a lost cause for Republicans. The bigger concern is the effect its lack of competitiveness might have down ballot. Those saying they're likely to vote this fall only report having supported John McCain by 4 points over Barack Obama in 2008, in contrast to McCain's actual 16 point victory in the state. That suggests a very low motivation level for GOP voters at this point, likely due to the weakness at the top of their ticket.

That could really come into play especially in the races for Auditor, Secretary of State, and Agriculture Commissioner, all of which look like toss ups right now. In the Auditor race Democrat Adam Edelen leads Republican John Kemper III 34-31. In the Secretary of State race Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes leads Republican Bill Johnson 38-35. And in the Agriculture Commissioner race Republican James Comer leads Democrat Bob Farmer 37-36. Those are all contests that could go in the GOP's direction if the party's voters step up their level of engagement.

In 2 other statewide contests the Democratic candidates hold wider leads. Jack Conway's up 47-36 for reelection as Attorney General against Republican challenger Todd P'Pool. Conway's favorability numbers dropped all the way to a pretty dreadful 34/52 spread in the closing days of his Senate run against Rand Paul last year, but now he's at 38/35, suggesting that campaign didn't do him too much permanent damage. Fellow Democrat Todd Hollenbach leads with 43% for Treasurer to 28% for Republican K.C. Crosbie and perhaps most notably 16% for Libertarian Ken Moellman. While third party candidates rarely end up doing as well in the end as they poll a couple months out from an election, that figure still reflects a pretty high degree of unhappiness with both political parties.

Steve Beshear looks like a shoo in for reelection. The biggest question in Kentucky is whether Republicans staying home because of their disenchantment with David Williams sinks the rest of the GOP ticket as well.

Full results here


Anonymous said...

Pretty funny how Kentucky will vote democratic in state elections but
will never vote for a democrat in senate or presidential elections.

Anonymous said...

Did you survey registered voters or already likely voters ?

Because the 48-44 McCain sample looks like you were using a LV model.

Anonymous said...

It could also have an effect on the "up-ticket" race, too.

Anonymous said...

There is no Senate race in Kentucky next year. Kentucky can vote for a Democrat for President -- if the nominee is a Southern moderate or populist (Carter, 1976; Clinton twice). The President wins this state only in a landslide.

Diane Loupe said...

I just received a call from your polling company, and I'm shocked that this was supposed to be a real opinion poll. The questions were worded in a way to prompt the response you wanted. If this is the way you do business, I'm not sure your polls are accurately assessing public opinion.

Dustin Ingalls said...

"Did you survey registered voters or already likely voters ?"

Likely. We forgot to note that in the blurb at the bottom of the press release.

wt said...

The libertarian guy is getting 16% because people thought his name was Hans Moleman.

Anonymous said...

This poll is way off with the down ticket candidates. Other polls show Farmer with the biggest down ticket lead and PPool gaining on Conway. How could an independent down ticket candidate that no one heard of have 16% support. Three other polls show that have been done, all show the same results while yours is different. I'll go with the three others.

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