Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell may be facing a new electoral challenge.
The Kentucky lawmaker, who once told the Heritage Foundation that the Republican Party’s primary goal would be to deny President Obama a second term, may himself be denied a sixth term, according to a poll by the Louisville Courier-Journal.
The Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll found that only 17 percent of registered voters in Kentucky said they intended to vote for McConnell in 2014. Not surprisingly, Democrats in large numbers said they won’t vote for him, but just 34 percent of Republicans said they would. Another 44 percent of those polled said they would wait to see who runs against McConnell.
The poll of 609 registered voters, conducted by SurveyUSA, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.
Of course, it is early in the season for the off-year elections, and McConnell, no doubt, has a strong campaign organization. According to The Washington Post, McConnell has hired a former top aide to Ron Paul and has reached out to tea party activists. But the new poll numbers may indicate that voters are tiring of contentious politics in Washington.
A lot, too, depends on who goes up against McConnell. No truly serious contenders have emerged. Actress Ashley Judd has hinted she might jump in, but her chances are not highly rated.
State Democratic Party Chairman Dan Logsdon told the Courier-Journal the poll showed McConnell is extremely vulnerable.
“I think Sen. McConnell’s record is finally catching up to him. You can’t go to Washington and have your sole purpose not to help Kentucky or not to get us out of our economic situation,” Logsdon said, noting that McConnell once said his primary goal was to make President Obama a one-term president. “People are sick and tired of this.”
Jesse Benton, McConnell’s campaign manager, called the poll “nothing more than an irresponsible way to stir up cheap headlines,” adding that the way the question was phrased was guaranteed to get a biased response.
“Anyone with a kindergarten level of education in polling knows that asking voters to support an incumbent ‘no matter who runs against him’ is guaranteed to produce the most skewed number possible,” Benton said.
Jay Leve, editor and founder of SurveyUSA, told the Courier-Journal: “The question is an excellent, broadly tested way to determine an incumbent’s core level of support. We regret that the results, in this case, frighten the minority leader.”
As the Republican Party evaluates election results and looks toward 2014 to regain some of the losses in both the House and the Senate, as well as regain some leverage against Obama, voters may decide to take some of the process out of the GOP’s hands.
In their quest to lead the federal government that they claim they want less of, some Republican leaders failed to take care of business in their home states.
While the party tries to figure out how to win on a national scale, the fight begins one state at a time, one contest at a time.
Jackie Jones, a journalist and journalism educator, is director of the career transformation firm Jones Coaching LLC and author of “Taking Care of the Business of You: 7 Days to Getting Your Career on Track.”