Poll: Booker leads McGrath by 8 points in Kentucky Senate primary

Kentucky state Rep. Charles Booker is pulling ahead of former Marine combat pilot Amy McGrath in the state’s Democratic Senate primary, according to a new poll released Thursday by the progressive think tank Data for Progress.

The survey, conducted from June 13 to 15 by the online polling company Civiqs, found Booker leading McGrath 44 percent to 36 percent. It’s the latest sign that Booker is heading into the June 23 primary with significant momentum despite McGrath’s outsize fundraising advantage and longtime lead in the polls.

The Data for Progress-Civiqs poll also found McGrath’s favorability rating underwater. Of the 898 registered Kentucky voters surveyed, only 24 percent said they have a favorable view of the former fighter pilot, who launched her Senate campaign last year with the support of Democratic Senate leaders in Washington. Fifty-nine percent reported having an unfavorable opinion of McGrath, while 18 percent said they were unsure.

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Fewer voters, meanwhile, said they have an opinion of Booker, with 38 percent unsure of how to view him. Still, 33 percent said they have a positive opinion of him compared to 29 percent who reported an unfavorable opinion. 

McGrath has long been seen as the favorite to win the Democratic nomination to take on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOcasio-Cortez to voters: Tell McConnell 'he is playing with fire' with Ginsburg's seat McConnell locks down key GOP votes in Supreme Court fight Video shows NYC subway station renamed after Ruth Bader Ginsburg MORE (R-Ky.) in November. But Booker has emerged as an unexpected threat in the final weeks before the June 23 primary, especially amid ongoing protests over racial injustice and police brutality. 

Louisville, Booker’s hometown, became a hotbed for those protests after 26-year-old Breonna Taylor, an unarmed black woman, was shot and killed by police in March when officers executed a no-knock search warrant at her apartment. 

Booker, a freshman state lawmaker, has appeared frequently at the protests in Louisville and has knocked McGrath for not being more present at the demonstrations. An advertisement launched this week by Booker’s campaign features a clip of McGrath from a June 1 Democratic debate explaining that she had been absent from the protests because she was spending time with her family.

McGrath’s campaign has noted that she has attended several events and met with community leaders in recent weeks about the issues of racial inequality and police practices. 

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Despite Booker’s lead in the latest Data for Progress-Civiqs poll, the primary is expected to be highly competitive. McGrath has a massive financial advantage over Booker her most recent federal filings show her with more than $19 million in cash on hand. And other recent polls show her leading in the race. 

A recent internal poll released by Booker’s campaign showed him trailing McGrath by 10 points. Still, that suggests that his standing in the race has improved drastically. A similar internal poll fielded in April showed him down more than 50 points.

Regardless of who wins the primary on Tuesday, both candidates will likely have a hard time beating McConnell in November. The poll released on Thursday showed McGrath trailing McConnell in a head-to-head match-up by 20 points. Booker trailed McConnell by a smaller but still significant 14-point margin. 

Kentucky is also poised to break heavily for President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden leads Trump by 36 points nationally among Latinos: poll Trump dismisses climate change role in fires, says Newsom needs to manage forest better Jimmy Kimmel hits Trump for rallies while hosting Emmy Awards MORE in November. According to the poll, 57 percent of respondents said they plan to vote for Trump in the general election, while 37 percent said they will vote for Biden. 

The Data for Progress-Civiqs poll surveyed 898 registered voters in Kentucky online from June 13 to 15. It has a margin of error of 3.8 percentage points.