On the road with Mitch McConnell: Unpopular leader holds onto power
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has emerged victorious in his hard-fought re-election campaign for the U.S. Senate in Kentucky against Democratic rising star Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.
NBC News projected that McConnell would retain his seat for a sixth straight term with 60% of precincts reporting.
McConnell won his race despite Kentucky voters’ negative views of him. The Republican incumbent has a 52% unfavorable rating to just 46% favorable in the NBC News exit poll, which is usually dangerous territory for a sitting senator. Fortunately for McConnell, Grimes proved to be a lackluster candidate.
President Barack Obama has a 63% disapproval rating in the Blue Grass State to just 37% approval. According to the exit poll, Grimes’ voter rating stands at 54% unfavorable to just 43% favorable. The Democrat was also seriously undercut by the broader political environment. More than half – 52% – of Kentucky voters feel that the government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals.
Kentucky is one of the numerous states where the big question is whether voters see this election as a referendum on President Obama. The president has a 63% disapproval rating in the Blue Grass State to just 37% approval. Half of Kentucky voters said that Obama factored into their vote for U.S. Senate, with those looking to express opposition to the president outnumbering those expressing support by a 38% to 11% margin.
At the end of the nearly $80 million race for Kentucky Senate, Grimes was comparing her race against McConnell to David and Goliath. “David just happens to be a female,” she said Sunday.
NBC News election unit contributed to this report.