Election 2019 Politics

A new poll shows Gov. Matt Bevin and Attorney General Andy Beshear in a dead heat ahead of next month’s gubernatorial election.

The same polling firm showed Bevin trailing Beshear by eight percentage points last December.

Now, 46 percent of likely voters say they’ll vote for Bevin, 46 percent say they’ll vote for Beshear and 7 percent are undecided.

Bevin leads among men, older and rural voters while Beshear has more support with women, younger voters in metropolitan areas, according to the poll.

The survey comes a little less than three weeks before Election Day, Nov. 5, when Kentuckians will weigh in on who should occupy statewide offices like governor, attorney general and secretary of state for the next four years.

Mason-Dixon conducted the poll between Oct 10 and 13, interviewing 625 likely voters across the state over the telephone. Mason-Dixon has a “B+” rating according to FiveThirtyEight’s pollster ratings.

The poll shows that Bevin has shored up his support in his own party since the last poll, with 77 percent of Republicans saying they would vote for him versus 67 percent last December.

Bevin also has more crossover appeal, according to the poll, with 22 percent of Democrats signaling support for him versus 15 percent of Republicans who said they would vote for Beshear.

Beshear hopes that Bevin’s unpopularity with teachers will shore up his campaign and encourage some Republican voters to cast ballots for him.

Kentucky still has a plurality of Democrats registered in the state, though their numbers have slowly dwindled.

Last year, Democrats dipped below the 50 percent mark of registered voters for the first time in state history. This month’s registration statistics show 49 percent registered as Democrats and 42 percent as Republicans.

Bevin’s job approval rating is still under water, but it has improved since the start of the year — up to 45 percent from 38 percent.

Mason-Dixon suggested that Bevin’s resurgence could be due to President Donald Trump’s popularity in Kentucky amid the impeachment inquiry.

The survey showed 57 percent of likely voters in Kentucky approving Trump’s performance and 65 percent opposing efforts to remove him from office.

The poll is the first publicly released during the race since Gravis Marketing (rated “C+” by FiveThirtyEight’s pollster rankings) released a poll in June showing Beshear ahead by 6 percentage points.

Some state political watchers have been skeptical of public polling in Kentucky since the Bluegrass Poll showed Democrat Jack Conway ahead of Bevin in the 2015 race by 5 percent. Bevin ended up winning by almost 9 percent.

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.