Beshear and other Democrats still lead as numbers barely move from Aug., cn|2 Poll shows

10/20/2011 06:37 PM

The statewide races remain roughly where they were a month and a half ago, according to the latest cn|2 Poll, with Democratic candidates holding advantages in each race.

Gov. Steve Beshear and running mate Jerry Abramson maintain a 28-point lead over the Republican ticket of David Williams and Richie Farmer, 54 percent to 26 percent, according to the cn|2 Poll taken Oct. 17-19. The independent ticket of Gatewood Galbraith and Dea Riley received 8 percent of respondents’ support, while 12 percent were undecided.

That is nearly identical to the results of the last cn|2 poll taken the last week of August. Each of the tickets picked up less than a point since then, even though this latest poll only surveyed voters who said they were “very likely” to vote on Nov. 8.

The polling from the other races also revealed few differences from a month and a half ago. The minimal change in the races underscores the lack of voter enthusiasm that has led many political analysts, including Secretary of State Elaine Walker, to predict low turnout on Nov. 8.

Only three candidates improved by more than 4 points between the Aug. 28-30 cn|2 Poll and this week’s: Democratic candidate for auditor Adam Edelen jumped 7 points, and Democratic candidate for secretary of state Alison Lundergan Grimes and incumbent Democratic Treasurer Todd Hollenbach both picked up 4 points from their levels of support in August. However, none of the three were polling above 50 percent.

Even though the election is less than three weeks away, the only candidates who have been consistently advertising over the last week have been Beshear, Edelen and Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway.

Braun Research Inc. conducted the cn|2 Poll between Oct. 17 and Oct 19. Live interviewers from Braun surveyed 802 Kentuckians who voted in the 2007 general election or the 2010 general election or both and who said they were “very likely” to vote Nov. 8. Click here to download the crosstabs: Oct 20 poll crosstabs.pdf

The poll has a margin of error of about 3.5 points.

Governor’s race
Beshear has maintained his lead with the help of strong fundraising that has allowed his campaign to flood the airwaves with commercials for the last three months straight.

Williams, meanwhile, hasn’t aired an ad for weeks. The Republican group Restoring America has been airing ads criticizing Beshear starting the last week of September. But a judge issued a restraining order Monday from the group airing ads because the group didn’t disclose its donors as required by state law. It wasn’t until Thursday that the ads went back up on the air after the judge lifted the restraining order now that the group disclosed its benefactor: Williams’ father-in-law, Terry Stephens.

Williams declined to answer questions on camera about the poll – or the Restoring America controversy. But he told Pure Politics he thought the cn|2 Poll numbers were wrong.

Galbraith, the independent candidate, also said he thought the numbers were incorrect because he believes he and Riley are polling second, ahead of Williams and Farmer. But he offered no poll numbers as proof.

Attorney General’s race
Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway slightly increased his lead over Republican challenger Todd P’Pool from the August cn|2 Poll.

The Oct. 17-19 cn|2 Poll showed:

  • 56.1% Jack Conway, Democrat (+ 2.9 from August)
  • 26.6% Todd P’Pool, Republican (+ 0.2 from August)
  • 17.3% Unsure (- 3.1 from August)

Conway’s campaign said the numbers “are further validation that Kentuckians realize Jack Conway has worked hard to keep his promise to make Kentucky safer for our families.”

But P’Pool’s campaign manager David Ray said the results of the poll are “laughable.”

“We are right on Jack Conway’s heels, which is why his liberal Washington allies are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in special interest money to try and rescue him. They’re seeing the same poll we are, and it looks nothing like this one,” Ray said.

He was referring to a commercial funded by the Democratic Attorneys General Association that criticizes P’Pool. It started running earlier this week.

State Auditor’s race

Democratic candidate for state auditor Adam Edelen began running his first commercial a week ago.

He and Republican John Kemper are competing for an open seat for auditor, and early polling showed many voters weren’t familiar with either candidate. In the August poll, a plurality of voters were unsure of whom to vote for.

The Oct. 17-19 cn|2 Poll showed:
▪ 38.5% Adam Edelen, Democrat (+ 7.0 from August)
▪ 29.2% John Kemper, Republican (+0.6 from August)
▪ 32.3% Unsure (- 7.6 from August)

Edelen’s campaign spokesman Nathan Cryder said voters are beginning to respond to Edelen’s message of “fearlessly cracking down on any corrupt official or politician who wastes our taxpayer dollars and as they realize just how unfit to be auditor Mr. Kemper is.”

Cryder referred to Kemper’s personal bankruptcy problems, which was a major point of contention in the candidates’ debate on KET two weeks ago.

Kemper’s campaign, meanwhile, has sought to make an issue out of Edelen accepting campaign contributions from government employees whom he would audit if elected. Kemper accepted less than $2,000 in donations from such public employees but
Edelen, former chief of staff to the governor, would be “a puppet” for Beshear if elected, said Kemper’s campaign spokesman Sam Edelen.

“After taking more than $100,000 in campaign cash from the Democrats’ capital cocktail of lobbyists and high-level government officials, the Kentucky people will be forced to audit the doggone auditor,” Edelen said.

But Kemper’s campaign has fewer resources to run ads – about $10,000 on hand as of Oct. 7 compared to about $400,000 for Edelen.

Secretary of State’s race
Democratic candidate for secretary of state Alison Lundergan Grimes just began airing her first ad Thursday.

She also added two points to hear lead over Republican candidate Bill Johnson.

The Oct. 17-19 cn|2 Poll showed:
▪ 40.8% Alison Lundergan Grimes, Democrat (+4.0)
▪ 30.3% Bill Johnson, Republican (+2.4)
▪ 35.3% Unsure (-6.4)

The movement shows “momentum,” said Grimes’ chief strategist Jonathan Hurst.

“Alison Lundergan Grimes is the only candidate in this race with a solid understanding of the issues, and families across Kentucky want a Secretary of State who will bring a fresh approach to the office,” Hurst said.

Johnson told Pure Politics in a phone interview that the results indicate the “unpredictability” of this election.

“It’s kind of like the stock market – the volatility, the uncertainty,” Johnson said. “If I were up by 11 or down by 11, it wouldn’t change a thing.”

Johnson initially said he planned to air radio ads but said he is leaning toward going up on television before the election.

Treasurer’s race

The Oct. 17-19 cn|2 Poll shows:
▪ 46.7% Todd Hollenbach, Democrat (+4.0 from August)
▪ 22.0% K.C. Crosbie, Republican (+0.9 from August)
▪ 4.3% Ken Moellman, libertarian (-0.8 from August
▪ 26.9% Unsure (-4.1 from August)

Hollenbach’s campaign spokesman Leo Haggerty called the results “encouraging.”

Crosbie said in a statement that her internal polling shows her “within striking distance and Hollenbach is well below 50 percent.”

“We have two and a half times more money and we certainly feel we are well-positioned for the final weeks when the voters will make up their minds,” she said.

Commissioner of Agriculture race
Republican James Comer and Democrat Bob Farmer have been locked in one of the more contentious races of the fall. They are vying to replace Richie Farmer as agriculture commissioner.

Neither candidate has begun a broad advertising campaign. Comer has $400,000 available to spend over the last two weeks on an ad blitz compared to Farmer, who had about $100,000 on hand, according to the candidates’ Oct. 7 finance reports.

The Oct. 17-19 cn|2 Poll shows:
▪ 45.1% Bob Farmer, Democrat (- 0.2 from August)
▪ 28.6% James Comer, Republican (+2.9 from August)
▪ 26.3% Unsure (-2.8 from August)

Comer, however, disagreed with the poll results.

“cn|2 is known for two things: good reporting and terrible polling,” he said in a statement. “They’ve never been able to hit the broad side of a barn in any race. When I win this election, I do hope cn|2 will look into hiring a new pollster.”

About Ryan Alessi

Ryan Alessi joined cn|2 in May 2010 as senior managing editor and host of Pure Politics. He is now pursuing an advanced degree in non-fiction writing from Murray State University and is a regular contributor to Pure Politics. Ryan has covered politics for more than 14 years, including seven years as a reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Ryan can be reached at purepolitics@twcable.com or @mycn2 on Twitter.

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