C-J poll: Only 17 percent plan on voting for McConnell in 2014

When Public Policy Polling released a poll in December showing that Sen. Mitch McConnell was the least popular senator in America, McConnell’s campaign screamed bloody murder, accusing the pollster of a grand conspiracy to smear Kentucky’s senior senator on orders from Barack Obama himself. The unhinged criticism of the poll touted one commissioned by The Courier-Journal months earlier as much more reliable and accurate (perhaps the only time he’s used those words to describe anything coming out of the C-J, which he openly despises).

Since the McConnell campaign obviously trusts the veracity of The Courier-Journal’s polling results, spinning the paper’s latest horrid poll numbers for McConnell should prove to be a difficult task.

The Courier-Journal’s new Bluegrass Poll, conducted as usual by Survey USA, finds that only 17 percent of Kentuckians polled say they will vote for Mitch McConnell in 2014 no matter who he runs against, while double that number (34 percent) say they will vote against him. Fifty percent are undecided or waiting to see who runs against him.

McConnell’s numbers aren’t exactly robust among Republicans, either. Only 34 percent of Republicans say they will definitely vote for him, while 10 percent say they will vote against him and a majority of 53 percent say it depends on who is running against him.

Mitch McConnell’s Senate campaign has been expressing supreme confidence that he will easily win the Republican nomination, citing how universally beloved he is among Tea Party groups. However, Tea Party groups in Kentucky have become more and more outspoken in their criticism of McConnell, saying that they refuse to be co-opted by McConnell and are actively recruiting a primary challenger.

Jesse Benton, McConnell’s campaign manager, sent out an email this morning that dismissed such criticism, calling the broad coalition of Tea Party groups across the state a “phony TEA Party” whose strings are being pulled by Democrats, whereas McConnell represents the real McCoy Tea Party.

Kentucky Tea Party leader David Adams, who is actively recruiting a primary challenger to the right of McConnell, told LEO Weekly that such spin from Benton won’t hold up.

“The bipartisan opposition to Sen. McConnell based on his votes for bigger government runs much deeper than anything his political operation can dismiss with one email,” says Adams.

While McConnell’s campaign has desperately tried to convinced the Beltway media that he is not in danger of facing the same fate as former Indiana Sen. Dick Lugar last spring — who lost in a blowout to Tea Party favorite Richard Mourdock — poll numbers obtained by LEO Weekly from a Democratic operative show that McConnell is arguably in a worse position politically than Lugar was at this point two years ago.

The poll from January of 2011 asked Indiana voters if they planned to vote for or against Richard Lugar in the following year’s Senate election. Thirty-five percent of respondents said they would vote for Lugar, while 48 percent said they would prefer to vote for someone else. However, Lugar fared much better at that point among Democrats than Republicans, as the opposite is the case with McConnell (even if the Republican support for McConnell is very tepid at 34 percent, it is better than his 7 percent support among Democrats and 11 percent among Independents).

As we said earlier, we’ll anxiously await to see how Benton spins these numbers from that most reliable and trustworthy Louisville newspaper…