How would Jim Bunning, Daniel Mongiardo or Trey Grayson do in this Senate race?

10/28/2010 07:51 PM

In this last cn|2 Poll of the 2010 Election, we thought we’d test how some former candidates might have been doing in the race — purely as an academic exercise.

After the cn|2 Poll asked each of the 800 likely voters who they plan to pick between Republican Rand Paul and Democrat Jack Conway, we asked respondents four questions about hypothetical match ups:

  • Republican U.S. Senator Jim Bunning, who is retiring, against Democratic nominee Jack Conway.
  • Conway against Republican Trey Grayson, who lost to Rand Paul in the May GOP primary.
  • Paul against Democrat Daniel Mongiardo, who lost to Conway in the May Democratic primary.
  • And who out of Bunning, Paul, Grayson, Conway and Mongiardo would they most want to be Senator.

Obviously, it’s impossible to know how these match ups would have actually played out with campaign themes, ads and even flubs on the campaign trail.

Click here to see the whole poll. Here’s what the results of the hypothetical questions show:

Rand Paul vs. Daniel Mongiardo

It might be a closer race right now if it were between Paul and Mongiardo, the lieutenant governor who lost to Conway by about 3,500 votes in May.

Mongiardo, who hails from Hazard, trails Paul by less than three points. Paul loses a point from the 46.5% he had against Conway in the same cn|2 Poll, while Mongiardo is polling 3.5 points higher than Conway does against Paul.

Interestingly there are fewer undecided voters in a fictional Paul-Mongiardo race than the 13 points in the real Paul-Conway contest.

One of the biggest differences comes in the 5th Congressional District that covers Eastern Kentucky, where Mongiardo is from. Conway is up on Paul by 2 points there with 23% undecided, while in the hypothetical match up Mongiardo would be ahead by 10 points with 13% undecided, according to the results.

Jim Bunning vs. Jack Conway

Two-term Republican Sen. Jim Bunning had wanted to run for a third term.

But in the summer of 2009, he was all but forced out of the race by some Republican leaders. In fact, Bunning’s relationship with Kentucky’s senior U.S. Senator, Mitch McConnell, has been strained ever since.

The concern among the GOP leadership was that Bunning, 79, couldn’t win another re-election race after struggling to finish line in 2004 — a strong Republican year in Kentucky — against Mongiardo, who was a lesser-known state senator at the time.

But, according to the results of the survey, Bunning would be faring well — in fact better than Paul — in a race against Conway.

Bunning was the only one who cracked the 50% threshold — nearly 4 points higher than Paul’s numbers against Conway. Conway’s support was nearly the same as what he polled against Paul.

Bunning polled over 50% against Conway in four congressional districts: the 1st and 2nd in western Kentucky, the 6th in Central Kentucky and his home area of the 4th District in Northern Kentucky. He received 63.5% of respondents’ support in that district.

Jack Conway vs. Trey Grayson

Also, we tested how Conway would do against Republican Trey Grayson, who lost to Paul by 23 points in the May primary.

Grayson, the Secretary of State, would be leading Conway by just 2 points, according to the survey.

Even more respondents, 14.3%, were unsure of this match up than the Conway-Paul race, in which nearly 13% were uncertain.

Grayson is viewed as a more moderate Republican. And some Democrats feared he might take more Democratic votes away from Conway had Grayson been the GOP’s nominee.

Grayson polled ahead of Conway in the 6th Congressional District in Central Kentucky and the 1st and 2nd districts in western Kentucky. But oddly, he trailed Conway 41.9% to 43.2% in his home area of the 4th Congressional District in Northern Kentucky.

(The congressional district breakouts have a margin of error of 8.43 points).

Most wanted for Senator?

Finally, we then asked the respondents to pick out of all five of the names who they most preferred to be the next junior U.S. Senator from  Kentucky. Paul had the plurality, but with less than 30%, as the field was largely split up:

  • Rand Paul 29.5%
  • Jack Conway 27%
  • Jim Bunning 13.2%
  • Daniel Mongiardo 11.3%
  • Trey Grayson 9.9%
  • don’t know 9.1%

As for what this all means — well, have a crack at it. What do you think it says about the race?

- Ryan Alessi


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