McConnell challenger leads in new poll

A New Democratic poll shows Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell trailing his likely Democratic opponent by 2 points. 

In the survey, conducted by Democratic firm Public Policy Polling for progressive group Americans United for Change, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) takes 45 percent support to McConnell's 43 percent support.

McConnell, however, posts stronger crossover support than Lundergan Grimes, with 24 percent of Democrats. Only 18 percent of Republicans supported Lundergan Grimes.

The survey, which was taken before the shutdown ended, indicates Kentucky voters are opposed to the tactic, and a plurality say they're less likely to support McConnell after hearing he supported the shutdown. But the numbers don't actually bear that out, indicating Democrats have some work to do in building their attack against the senator on the issue.

PPP asked respondents whether they would be more or less likely to support McConnell after finding out he supported the shutdown, and 48 percent said they'd be less likely, while a third said they'd be more likely.

But asked again after being told about the incumbent's position, the numbers in a head-to-head match-up barely move.

The knowledge seems to shore up both McConnell's and Lundergan Grimes' bases somewhat, but it doesn't move the needle for independents, and the Democrat's lead remains the same.

Republicans also noted the survey seems to oversample Democrats. While it hews closely to the state's voter registration data, it's unlikely that more than half of those who turn out in Kentucky on Election Day in a midterm will be Democrats and only a third will be Republicans.

It's difficult to tell at this point in the campaign how much of a toll the shutdown might take on McConnell's support, but Democrats believe it could be a helpful issue due to polls like this one that show the tactic to be widely unpopular both in Kentucky and nationwide.

McConnell played a central role in brokering a deal late Wednesday night to end the shutdown, a fact Washington Republicans trumpeted when the government opened again on Thursday as evidence McConnell is "Washington's Mr. Fix It." By next November, voters will have heard extensive arguments from both sides, and it's unlikely to be a clear winner for either candidate.

The survey was conducted among 1,193 Kentucky voters from Oct. 14-15 and has a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points.

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