Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

McConnell Opponent Floundering

In Election Analysis, Governor on January 20, 2015 at 10:03 am

We all remember Alison Lundergan Grimes (D), the Kentucky Secretary of State who ran a close race against Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) … until the end.  In that campaign, Grimes continued to consistently poll within two to three points of the veteran senator, but fell by 15 points when the votes were actually counted.
 
Kentucky is one of five states to hold its statewide elections in odd-numbered years – Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia being the other four – so she must defend her current office later this year.  Yesterday, Grimes said she will be running for a statewide post but apparently has still not decided upon a specific race.  Candidate filing for the 2015 election closes Jan. 27, so she will quickly be forced to decide.
 
Grimes is apparently considering a campaign for governor and attorney general, in addition to a bid for re-election.  A further complicating factor came forth for her yesterday when Gravis Marketing released a statewide poll of Kentucky voters that indicates even a run for re-election as secretary of state may be fraught with peril.
 
Though talking about running for the other positions, the fact that she has yet to enter the race for governor or attorney general puts her at a major disadvantage should she actually decide to venture forth in either of those directions.  Current Attorney General Jack Conway (D), a 56-44 percent loser to Rand Paul (R) in the 2010 Senate race, is clearly the leading Democratic candidate even to the point of running ahead of all potential Republican candidates, though his margins are slim.  In the attorney general’s race, Andy Beshear, son of retiring Gov. Steve Beshear, has been running for months and would be favored over a late-arriving Grimes at this particular time.  
 
Since retreating to run for re-election appears to be her best option, the Gravis Marketing group found that even this run is no given.  According to their data, Grimes leads former Erlanger city councilman, Steve Knipper (R), by just one percentage point, 47-46 percent, suggesting clear vulnerability.
 
Kentucky is an unusual voting state.  Though one of the most loyal Republican entities in the presidential election (the GOP nominee has carried the state 11 times in the post-Roosevelt era), Kentucky still favors Democrats in their state contests.  Only three times in the same post-Roosevelt era has Kentucky elected a Republican chief executive, understanding that governors have been allowed to succeed themselves just since 1995.
 
Though Grimes has virtual universal name identification, and her party is traditionally favored in all Kentucky state contests, she is apparently far from guaranteed a victory in a 2015 election no matter what office she chooses to seek.  Her delay in firmly moving forward in any campaign further diminishes those chances.  Another loss, particularly if she runs for re-election, could bring a premature end to the 36-year-old office holder’s fledging political career.
 

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