Poll by RunSwitch PR & Harper Polling shows Comer with small lead to start GOP primary
Conway will be Dem nominee
Very tight race generically, looks to be close in the fall
(Louisville, Ky.)—RunSwitch PR, along with its polling partner Harper Polling, today released results of a 2015 likely voter survey testing the candidates for governor and various issues surrounding the race. The poll was taken January 28-31. Three sets of results were released – one for each party’s primary and one general election sample.
“Kentucky is in for a real barn burner of a governor’s race,” said Brock McCleary of Harper Polling. “Generically, Republicans have a slight advantage in the race in November. Two of the four GOP candidates had small leads on likely Democratic nominee Jack Conway, and Conway had small leads on the other two.”
The GOP held a 48% to 43% lead on the generic ballot, with Comer and Heiner leading Conway and Bevin and Scott trailing him. All head-to-head results were within the Margin of Error, showing the closeness of the contest.
RunSwitch PR released the results of the survey on its twitter feed @RunSwitchPR beginning at 3 PM eastern time on February 2.
While Jack Conway is all-but-certain to win the Democratic primary, the early action will be in the GOP race, McCleary said.
“We find James Comer with a small advantage to start, but with Hal Heiner and Matt Bevin right there behind him. Will Scott is the furthest back. Obviously, GOP voters are still making up their minds about these candidates, as 30% of our sample wasn’t sure who they would back,” McCleary said.
Comer registered 25% in the primary poll, with Heiner at 19%, Bevin at 18%, and Scott at 9%.
Polling in the race is likely to bounce around as candidates start their advertising campaigns and begin making more frequent appearances in front of voters, said RunSwitch Partner Scott Jennings, a veteran of numerous national, state, and local campaigns.
“We are likely to see significant movement in the GOP primary numbers as the Lincoln Day season is just beginning, and all of these candidates will be appearing alongside one another numerous times in front of good crowds and reporters all over the state,” Jennings said. “And, outside of a small amount from Heiner, we haven’t seen any paid advertising begin to affect this race just yet. I am sure that will change soon.”
Jennings said he expects a close race until the end.
“Kentucky is trending Republican, but still retains Democratic tendencies in the governor’s office and in some state offices,” Jennings said. “The dynamics will make for a close race this year, and hopefully for a robust policy debate on the future of the Commonwealth.”
Jennings noted that Kentucky has two popular Republican statewide elected officials – U.S. Senators Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell – and a popular Democratic Governor Steve Beshear, who clocked in with a +19 job approval in this survey. Jennings said it shows the Commonwealth is willing to go either way in statewide elections depending on the candidates.
“Gov. Beshear gives Jack Conway something Democrats didn’t have in 2014, and that’s a relatively popular chief executive to use electorally,” Jennings said. “On the other hand, Barack Obama continues to be highly unpopular in Kentucky and I am sure his policies will again be litigated in this 2015 race.”
“Ultimately, the general election nominees may need to find an interesting policy plank on which to run that can help voters cut through the clutter in this race. I think an open seat situation lends itself to creative policy thinking, and hopefully we’ll see multiple candidates in both parties come up with new ideas that give our voters and policymakers food for thought as we choose our future,” Jennings said.
Neither RunSwitch Public Relations nor Harper Polling is affiliated with any candidate for governor in Kentucky.
You can view the poll results documents at the links below:
About RunSwitch PR
RunSwitch PR is the largest public relations firm in the state of Kentucky and is one of the fastest-growing full-service PR firms in the nation, providing public relations and public affairs services to local, national and international clients. RunSwitch was formed in 2012 by Steve Bryant, Gary Gerdemann and Scott Jennings, seasoned communications and public affairs professionals with more than 60 years of combined experience in issue advocacy, media relations and political consulting. RunSwitch PR is headquartered in Louisville, Ky. Learn more at www.runswitchpr.com.
About Harper Polling
Harper Polling is a nationally-recognized polling company that explores public attitudes impacting strategic decision-making in politics and public affairs. Find them on the web at www.HarperPolling.com.