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Poll flips Senate contest

By Joseph Gerth Courier-Journal

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell holds a 2 percentage point lead over Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes in a head-to-head matchup in November's election, according to the latest Bluegrass Poll.

The poll found that likely voters in Kentucky now favor McConnell by a margin of 47 percent to 45 percent. It's the first time that McConnell has led in the poll, which found him trailing Grimes by 4 points in February and 1 point in May. Eight percent said they are undecided.

Libertarian David Patterson, who has said he is running but hasn't turned into Grimes' office the required signatures to get on the ballot, doesn't appear to harm either candidate more than the other. With Patterson included, McConnell maintains a 2 percentage point advantage over Grimes.

The poll was conducted by Survey USA for The Courier-Journal, WHAS-TV, the Lexington Herald-Leader and Lexington's WKYT-TV over landline and cellular telephones between July 18 and Wednesday. The survey was of 604 likely voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

Democratic political consultant Danny Briscoe said both sides have reason to be pleased with the results, but they also should see peril.

For McConnell, he said, it's good news that he's ahead, but bad news that he still hasn't cracked 50 percent.

Grimes should be pleased that the poll puts them in a virtual tie but should be concerned that performance has declined in each Bluegrass Poll after starting ahead by 4 percentage points early in the year. "It is so close and there is plenty of time to reverse that trend," Briscoe said. "But it shows that Mitch McConnell's attacks are working and she's going to have to respond better than she has so far."

Les Fugate, a Republican who was a political adviser to former Secretary of State Trey Grayson, said the poll basically shows that the numbers really haven't budged much in the past six months. "We're spending a lot of money and nobody's mind is changing," Fugate said. "What is likely occurring is the majority of people have made up their minds and this may be that this is an election about turnout more than anything else."

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