Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

The Bogus Tie

In Polling, Senate on May 30, 2013 at 10:02 am
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

Public Policy Polling just tested Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R) political strength through a liberal Senate Majority PAC-sponsored push poll (May 23-24; 556 registered Kentucky voters). The data projects McConnell to be in a flat-footed tie (45-45 percent) with Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D); but in reality, the veteran senator is in much better position.

Though Grimes might be the Democrats’ strongest potential senatorial candidate, it is highly unlikely that she will run. Despite repeated overtures from Democratic leaders asking her to enter the race, Grimes has yet to make any move that suggests she is contemplating such a move.

The Senate Majority PAC polling questionnaire is far from being objective. Containing inflammatory statements against McConnell, the poll is designed to obtain negative responses about him. Examine their questions:

  • Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? “Mitch McConnell is part of the problem in Washington, DC, and has forgotten about the people of Kentucky.” Result: Agree, 50-40 percent
  • Mitch McConnell has voted to cut taxes for millionaires like himself, while supporting cuts to Social Security and Medicare for hard-working Kentucky seniors. Does this make you more or less likely to vote for him, or does it not make a difference? Result: Less Likely, 50-23 percent
  • Mitch McConnell has consistently been against increasing the minimum wage for hard-working Kentuckians, even during the current recession. Does this make you more or less likely to vote for him, or does it not make a difference? Result: Less Likely, 48-27 percent
  • Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? “Mitch McConnell wants to run a negative campaign and talk about his opponent all the time because he knows he cannot defend his record as a senator in Washington, DC.” Result: Agree, 43-39 percent

Despite the leading nature of these queries, all designed to pull voters away from McConnell, the minority leader and 29-year senatorial veteran still holds his own even with a sampling universe that’s 50 percent self-identified Democratic. Republicans comprised 35 percent of the respondent pool.

Even when taking into account the negative responses these questions are designed to produce, the senator’s job approval rating actually increased substantially from PPP’s last poll. According to the new data, his job approval index stands at 44:47 percent favorable to unfavorable, improving from their more objective April survey that pegged him at 36:54 percent.

Mitch McConnell has historically been one of the Republican Party’s strongest political campaigners. The fact that he draws even in a clearly biased poll opposite an unlikely opponent should mean that more positive McConnell numbers are soon on the way.

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