Democrats energized by Bluegrass poll as Grimes sticks with jobs theme

02/06/2014 10:00 PM

LOUISVILLE — Buoyed by the results of the Bluegrass Poll Thursday, about 1,000 Democrats turned U.S. Senate challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes’ latest economic speech into more of a campaign pep rally.

Grimes leads five-term U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell by four points, 46 percent to 42 percent with 12 percent undecided, in the poll conducted over the last week by SurveyUSA for the Lexington Herald-Leader, Louisville Courier-Journal, WHAS-11 and WKYT. (Click here to see the coverage from the Courier-Journal and WHAS and here for WKYT ).

U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville broke the news to many of the Democrats who packed into the Center for African American Heritage in downtown Louisville. Yarmuth said he’s been telling his Democratic colleagues in Washington that McConnell “cannot win this race” and the poll results, although still early in the race, are the latest indicator.

McConnell’s campaign spokeswoman issued a statement saying it the campaign is “very comfortable about where this race stands and extremely confident that Senator McConnell will earn the votes of Kentuckians this fall.”

McConnell spokeswoman Allison Moore then flagged the two issues McConnell has so far focused on — supporting coal and opposing the Affordable Care Act — as the potential difference-makers in the race.

“The contrast between Mitch McConnell’s conservative accomplishments for Kentucky and Alison Lundergan Grimes’s alliance with President Obama’s agenda of Obamacare and the war on coal will become very clear to everyone over the next nine months,” Moore said.

Grimes, meanwhile, has been sticking to an economic theme over the last month starting with a policy speech in Prestonsburg last month. That’s where she first unveiled her plan with the types of policies she would support if elected to the U.S. Senate. Her platform includes supporting an increase in the federal minimum wage, investing in roads and broadband Internet and funding programs to retrain out-of-work coal miners especially in Eastern Kentucky.

On Thursday in Louisville, Grimes stressed the need for broader job training programs.

Speaking to Pure Politics before her remarks, Grimes also endorsed the concept of economic freedom zones, which Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul — joined by McConnell — has pushed in the U.S. Senate. Paul’s plan would lower federal tax rates on communities with perpetually high unemployment rates in hopes that the lower taxes would spur more investment and economic opportunities.

When asked about that concept, Grimes said she was “encouraged” by that type of approach.


Subscribe to email updates.

Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.