cn|2 Poll: Rand Paul leads Jack Conway 40.6% to 31.4% with 27% undecided

08/05/2010 04:47 PM

The gap between Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul and Democrat Jack Conway widened to 9 points in the latest cn|2 Poll released Thursday, but the number of those saying they weren’t sure also jumped.

Paul leads with 40.6% compared to 31.4% for Conway. About 27% of 802 likely voters interviewed this week said they were unsure of their vote in the Senate race.

The survey was conducted by interviewers from Braun Research Inc. of Princeton, N.J., from Aug. 2 through Aug. 4. It has a margin of error of 3.46 percentage points. Click here to see the detailed poll results and cross-tabs

The cn|2 Poll released Aug. 5, 2010, shows Republican candidate Rand Paul leading the Democrat, Jack Conway, in Kentucky's U.S. Senate race.

The results showed relative stability for Paul, who polled at 41% in the cn|2 Poll that was released July 22. In that survey, Conway received 38% while 19% said they were undecided.

Neither candidate has begun an advertising campaign yet. And politics tend to fade to the background during the summer, contributing to the high undecideds, political observers said.

But Republicans touted the results as reaffirmation that conservative voters are more motivated and Paul enters the fall campaign with a solid base of support.

Jesse Benton, Paul’s campaign manager, said he was pleased to see that Paul led Conway with a similar margin to other recent polls, including SurveyUSA, which was conducted last week for the Courier-Journal and WHAS.

“Every reputable poll has shown Dr. Paul and his message of balanced budgets and real spending reform is resonating across Kentucky,” he said.

And Republican Party of Kentucky Chairman Steve Robertson said he was encouraged by the results to the cn|2 Poll question about which party voters would like to see controlling Congress. Of the respondents, 48.8% said Republicans, while 36.5% said Democrats.

“It certainly leads me to believe that the environment is right for leaners to go in our direction,” Robertson said. “Obviously we need to communicate with them, and we will.”

For Conway, he now has to figure out how to appeal to those prospective voters, said Danny Briscoe a Lousiville-based Democratic campaign consultant who isn’t working on the Senate race.

“Conway needs Democrats to turn out to win. Convince them on three or four issues that ‘my stance is better than Paul’s,’” Briscoe said.

One of those places he needs Democrats to show up to the polls in droves is the heavily Democratic-registered counties in far eastern Kentucky, such as Pike and Floyd.

But the cn|2 Poll shows that voters in the eastern part of the state – the 5th congressional district – are the most uncertain about the Senate race. Nearly 39% of respondents from that district said they were undecided.

Voters in the far western part of the state also were more unsure about the race. Nearly a third of the respondents from the 1st congressional district —which covers western Kentucky and the southern counties along much of the Tennessee border – said they were undecided. And nearly half of voters from that district said they were unsure or didn’t have an opinion of Conway when they were asked about their opinion of the Democratic candidate.

Campaigning in western Kentucky, which has a lot of registered Democrats who have been voting for Republicans in federal races, “is something Conway should have been doing all summer,” Briscoe said. “That was a mistake” not to.

Conway’s campaign campaign issued a statement saying “we are confident Kentucky voters will see a clear choice: between Jack Conway, a man with a proven record of protecting the people of Kentucky and Rand Paul, a man who would put so many people at risk in so many ways that he’s now hiding his real positions, hoping Kentuckians don’t find out about them before the election.”

A memo that campaign spokeswoman Allison Haley e-mailed to supporters and media earlier Thursday hinted at Conway’s strategy to contrast himself with Paul. Among the points in the memo:

  • “Rand is just another politician,” citing several items such as Paul’s fund-raiser with Senators who supported the bank bailout after criticizing his Republican primary opponent for doing the same thing.
  • “Rand is waffling and hiding his positions,” saying Paul hasn’t been forthcoming about how he would suggest cutting spending and what his specific position on farm subsidies.
  • Conway was born and raised in Kentucky, unlike Paul.

Overall, 43.9% of respondents to the cn|2 Poll said they had a favorable view of Conway compared to 49.8% who reported a positive view of Paul.

Paul’s strongest area was his home region of the 2nd congressional district where he scored a total of a 61.9% favorability and out-polled Conway 51.1% to 25.5%.

Check back Thursday evening for an analysis of the poll results on questions regarding the economy and the federal government’s handling of the recession.

- Ryan Alessi with additional reporting by Kenny Colston


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