NY Times poll shows close Ky. Senate race, but are respondents representative of '14 voters?

04/23/2014 10:15 AM

The latest national media poll shows Kentucky U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell and Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes still neck-and-neck.

The New York Times Upshot/Kaiser Family Foundation poll of the 891 registered Kentucky voters shows McConnell leading Grimes by one point, 44 percent to 43 percent with eight percent undecided.

Grimes does beat Republican candidate Matt Bevin in a hypothetical match up by six percentage points.

But as Aaron Blake of the Washington Post first pointed out in a tweet , the breakdown of respondents based on how they voted in the 2012 presidential race raises some questions about the representation in this poll.

When asked who the Kentucky respondents voted for in the 2012 race, 28 percent said they voted for President Barack Obama and 31 percent said they voted for Republican nominee Mitt Romney. A closer look at the election results show that Romney won Kentucky by a large majority of the vote, 60 percent to 37 percent.

Also interesting about the 2012 question, 29 percent of Kentuckians polled said they did not vote in the presidential election—making them less likely to vote in an off-year election like this fall’s Kentucky U.S. Senate race.

The groups polled to find answers about six different tight races in southern states and then compared their numbers to the results of other polling firms for all the races.

The New York Times also created graphics to show how the races could play into which party will control the U.S. Senate in 2015. The Times compared their results to other forecasting groups to show that many still show Kentucky (last on the chart below) as leaning Republican.

The poll also analyzed the approval ratings of elected officials including McConnell and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul as well as Governor Steve Beshear.

McConnell’s approval rating in the poll is at 40 percent, making him less favorable than Paul and Beshear but more popular than President Barack Obama in the state.


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