The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Do You Like McConnell? Well, Compared to Whom?


Earlier this month, I scoffed a bit at web ads being run against Senator Mitch McConnell, declaring,

The high-profile grumbling about Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell — seen in a new ad campaign from ForAmerica, a non-profit 501(c)4 run by Brent Bozell — is a lot like the much-discussed, little-impact uprising against John Boehner as speaker of the House. In both cases, the odds of replacing the current Republican leadership would be exponentially more likely if there were a named alternative.

The issue of a lack of named alternative arises again, as the Louisville Courier-Journal writes a breathless story about a poll they commissioned, finding that only 17 percent of registered voters will vote for McConnell no matter who runs against him, 34 percent will vote against McConnell, and for 44 percent, “it depends who is running.”

Well, gee, it kind of matters who the other candidate is, doesn’t it?

The new result suggests there are conservatives out there who might prefer an alternative if they had some other conservative alternative in the primary (13 percent of self-identified conservatives say they are “definitely” voting against McConnell). Of course, there are some liberals out there who will prefer the Democratic alternative (although only 56 percent of self-identified liberals say they’re definitely voting against McConnell!).

The problem is that the more conservative folks and the Democrats who are currently McConnell foes have diametrically opposed notions of what a “better alternative” is. If McConnell wins his primary, most of those conservatives will prefer him to the more liberal alternative and “come home”; if he doesn’t win his primary, the anti-McConnell animus in the electorate is moot.

The poll is by SurveyUSA . . . which found McConnell’s approval rating at 50 percent at the end of October.

Considering that the paper was willing to commission the poll, one wishes they had bothered polling some of the potential rivals to McConnell, in both a GOP primary and a statewide race.

In fact, the early polling of a hypothetical McConnell–Ashley Judd race would have made for a dramatic story. I wonder why the Courier-Journal chose not to poll on that matchup . . . or whether they did and chose not to publicize the results.

Tags: Erskine Bowles , Kentucky , Mitch McConnell


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