Mitch McConnell is certainly taking his GOP primary opponent seriously, but an internal poll from his campaign shows him with a 47-point lead over Republican Matt Bevin.
The survey from GOP pollster Jan van Lohuizen shows McConnell up 68% to 21% over Bevin, a Louisville businessman who’s trying to harness Tea Party support and conservative anger to oust the Senate minority leader.
“In addition to very few undecided voters, voters appear satisfied with the candidates. Even fewer than those who are undecided are those who plan to vote for someone other than the main, declared candidates or plan to stay home because they are dissatisfied with the choices,” van Lohuizen, the pollster for President George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign, wrote in the memo.
The polling memo also says McConnell has a 46 point lead among voters who consider themselves Tea Party Republicans, a 57 point lead with very conservative voters, a 53 point lead with younger women, a 61 point lead among straight-ticket GOP voters, a 55 point lead with seniors and a 49 point advantage among men.
McConnell’s campaign has called Bevin’s challenge a “nuisance,” and if he wins, the GOP incumbent also faces a tough general election challenge from Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. The Democrat released a Mellman Group poll conducted for her campaign last month that showed her in a statistical tie with McConnell.
Leading conservative groups see McConnell as their top target, and while he’s being hit on both sides, Senate Conservatives Fund is readying a statewide ad campaign to pressure the GOP leader to defund Obamacare even if it means shutting down the government.
This week, McConnell released an ad hitting Bevin for embellishing his educational record. While his LinkedIn profile says he attended a Massachusetts Institute of Technology four-day EO/MIT entrepreneurial master’s program, but the school has said the program is not affiliated with MIT.
Van Lohuizen argued that the poll was conducted just as this ad was airing, and that the hit would move the dial in McConnell’s favor even more.
“The survey shows Bevin’s dishonesty about his educational background is a concern for voters, with 53% expressing a negative reaction, including 39% with a very negative reaction,” the GOP pollster wrote.
McConnell’s poll from Voter Consumer Research surveyed 600 likely Kentucky GOP primary voters from Sunday, August 18 though Tuesday, August 20, with a margin of error of ±4.0%.