The Chatter: Jack Conway clings to tight lead on Matt Bevin in Kentucky governor's race

07/31/2015 10:50 AM

Attorney General Jack Conway holds a slim, 3-point lead on Republican Matt Bevin in a head-to-head contest in the latest Bluegrass Poll of Kentucky’s gubernatorial election conducted by SurveyUSA.

The gap between Conway, the Democratic nominee, and Bevin grew to 5 percent when independent candidate Drew Curtis, who has not officially declared his candidacy, is added. His campaign said late Thursday that he expects to file his paperwork Aug. 11.

Forty-five percent of the 685 likely voters in the Nov. 3 election supported Conway against Bevin in a head-to-head race versus 42 percent support for the Louisville investment manager and 13 percent of respondents undecided, according to the survey conducted for The Courier-Journal, Lexington Herald-Leader, WHAS-TV and WKYT-TV. The poll has a 3.8 percent margin of error.

Conway’s support drops to 43 percent when Curtis enters the mix. Thirty-eight percent of respondents backed Bevin in the three-way matchup while Curtis picked up 8 percent support, with 11 percent still undecided.

Both campaigns had positive interpretations of the poll numbers. From The Courier-Journal:

The Conway camp acknowledged that Conway has a battle on his hands.

”This is a close race and we’re not taking anything for granted,” Daniel Kemp, Conway’s spokesman, said in a statement.

”But what this poll does show is that Jack Conway’s message of creating good-paying jobs, investing in early childhood education and holding the line on taxes is resonating. Jack and Sannie (Overly, his running mate) look forward to working hard over the next three months, sharing their plan with Kentuckians in every corner of the commonwealth,” Kemp said.

Bevin didn’t question the results either.

”That’s probably accurate,” he said in an interview. “No one poll means anything. It’s about where we would expect to be. This is a neck-and-neck race.”

He noted that 38 percent of voters are Republicans and he polls above that number. “So numerically we should be a much bigger statistical underdog than that. … I’m delighted by where we are and I’ll continue to run like we’re 10 points down like we always have from the time we entered the primary.”

The poll breaks down support by congressional district, giving an early glimpse at how voters in each of the state’s regions view the candidates.

Bevin holds double-digit leads on the Democratic attorney general in western and southern Kentucky’s 1st and 2nd Congressional Districts — 18 points and 10 points in the three-way survey, respectively — while Conway has sizable leads in Louisville’s 3rd Congressional District, 33 percent, and central Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District, 14 points, according to the poll results. The two are tied in northern Kentucky’s 4th Congressional District with 36 percent support apiece, and Conway has a 4-point edge in eastern Kentucky’s 5th Congressional District.

From the Herald-Leader:

Follow-up phone calls to several poll respondents revealed that many don’t know much about either of the two major-party candidates.

Jim Chappell, 64, of Louisville, said he would vote for Conway because Conway is not a Republican.

”I think Republicans have a disgusting philosophy,” Chappell said. “If Donald Duck was running against them, I would vote for Donald Duck.”

Jessica Whitedove, 67, of Perry County, said Conway is the lesser of two evils, but there are no good options in the governor’s race.

”We don’t have much to choose from. We really don’t, and that is sad, but you’ve got to pick somebody,” Whitedove said. “We cannot let the Republicans rule. I’m going to watch another debate, then I’ll make my final decision, I guess.”

Jim Weaks, 50, of Louisville, said he’ll likely vote for Bevin because Conway does not follow through on his promises.

”Jack Conway is a guy that stands and says all kinds of stuff, but he doesn’t do anything,” Weaks said. “He’s a good talker, he’s a good spokesman, but I don’t believe anything that comes out of his mouth.”

The survey also polled respondents on Gov. Steve Beshear’s performance as he readies his exit from office in December. Fifty-one percent of 863 registered voters approved of Beshear’s job as governor versus 33 percent who disapprove, according to poll results that had a 3.4 percent margin of error.

Beshear’s approval numbers are above water in all but one congressional district. In the 1st Congressional District, 44 percent of respondents disapproved of Beshear’s administration versus 39 percent who viewed him favorably.

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a reporter for Pure Politics. He joined cn|2 in September 2014 after five years at The State Journal in Frankfort, where he covered Kentucky government and politics. You can reach him at or 502-792-1135 and follow him on Twitter at @KWheatley_cn2.


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