Lunsford Pulls Even With McConnell in New Democratic Poll

Posted October 30, 2008 at 2:53pm

The campaign of Democrat Bruce Lunsford released a new poll Thursday afternoon that showed the wealthy businessman in a statistical dead heat with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in one of the key Senate races of the cycle.

The new survey showed the Minority Leader leading 47 percent to 45 percent, but with a 4.5-point margin of error the race is a dead heat. The poll of 502 likely voters was conducted for Lunsford’s campaign by the Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group on Sunday and Monday.

Democrats are going all-out in their efforts to knock off McConnell. A victory in Kentucky would not only be a major coup because it would mean knocking off the Minority Leader, but McConnell’s seat could well be the 60th seat Democrats need to create a filibuster-proof majority.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), who is popular in the state, is scheduled to make her second visit to Kentucky this weekend to stump for Lunsford.

According to the polling memo released Thursday, one variable that might work in Lunsford’s favor is that “our survey most likely undersampled African-American voters at six percent; the 2004 exit poll for Kentucky showed an eight percent African-American proportion, and it is not unreasonable to assume that African-American turnout on November fourth could be higher than eight percent” because of Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-Ill.) candidacy.

Republicans were quick to dispute the Lunsford’s campaign’s latest polling numbers, instead pointing to recent polls from two Kentucky newspapers as evidence that McConnell is widening his lead as the election draws near.

The Courier-Journal released a poll of 817 likely voters on Thursday that showed McConnell ahead 47 percent to 42 percent. That poll was in the field Oct. 27-29 and had a 4.3-point margin of error. Last week the Lexington Herald-Leader released a survey showing McConnell up 47 percent to 43 percent.

“Every public and private poll released in the past week has shown a significant trend towards Senator McConnell’s re-election,” said McConnell campaign manager Justin Brasell. Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) “is frantically trying to convince the beltway that something is happening in Kentucky but Kentuckians have a very different view,” Brassell said.