Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell holds a nearly 40-point lead over primary challenger Matt Bevin, according to a super PAC supporting the incumbent.
Kentuckians for Strong Leadership released the poll Monday, showing McConnell ahead of Bevin by a 61-23 margin among likely voters.
The polling memo says McConnell’s support among primary voters “cuts across ideology and Tea Party affiliation.”
According to their numbers, McConnell leads Bevin among “Tea Party supporters” by a 60-23 margin. That may come as the most contested statistic given that Bevin received the endorsement from a coalition of over a dozen Kentucky Tea Party groups in the primary contest.
Founded by GOP strategist Scott Jennings, who is a former McConnell advisor, Kentuckians for Strong Leadership has spent much of the campaign attacking Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes.
But with the Republican primary election just over two months away, McConnell’s supporters are hoping to finishing off Bevin going into the general.
Bevin campaign spokeswoman Rachel Semmel dismissed the poll, adding its release is another indication that McConnell and his supporters are worried.
“Mitch McConnell and his allies know Matt has picked up the momentum in this race as voters have learned more about McConnell’s big government record in D.C. and they are running scared,” she says. “We look forward to a historic victory in May.”
Last month the independent Bluegrass Poll showed a closer GOP primary race, but McConnell still held a healthy 26 point lead over Bevin. Another GOP-based survey conducted by Wenzel Strategies found McConnell with a slightly higher lead of 42-points.
McConnell’s unpopularity has been a major feature of this year’s Senate race, but the KSL survey finds 67 percent of primary voters have a favorable view of the senator. Other general election polls have found McConnell’s approval numbers lagging and in some cases lower than President Obama’s rating in Kentucky.
“Increasing Bevin’s name ID is unlikely to improve his ballot support among GOP voters,” the memo says. “Senator McConnell even leads on the ballot 59% – 26% (a 33 – point margin) among those voters who have heard of Matt Bevin.”
The survey was conducted among 400 likely Republican voters and has a 4.9 percent margin of error.