Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., looks to be headed into one of the toughest campaigns of his political career, as his Democratic opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes, leads him in his 2014 re-election race, according to a new poll.
A survey by the Democratic polling firm Public Policy Polling shows Grimes with 45 percent support and McConnell with 44 percent, Kentucky's Courier-Journal reports. The poll was paid for by two groups who oppose McConnell, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America, according to the Courier-Journal.
Grimes, 34, is Kentucky's secretary of state who announced her bid against McConnell, the Senate minority leader, July 1. She was criticized by the political class in Washington, D.C., for a harried roll-out of her announcement, which was delayed for an hour and sported an old campaign sign.
But the latest poll shows she's poised to capitalize on her 71-year-old opponent's vulnerabilities: He has served in the Senate since 1985 and has become very unpopular with Kentucky voters. The poll shows 40 percent approve of McConnell while 54 percent disapprove of him.
After tea party favorite Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., defeated McConnell's hand-picked Republican candidate, Trey Grayson, during the 2010 Senate campaign, McConnell has been working to buffer himself against a conservative primary candidate. He's also been spearheading Republican opposition to President Barack Obama and a Democratically controlled Senate, taking the blame in the media for helping create gridlock in Washington. Both factors are likely contributing to his unpopularity.
And despite the fact that McConnell has drawn a primary opponent, wealthy businessman Matt Bevin, who is already drawing support from some tea party groups, the political veteran is well-equipped to prevail in 2014. McConnell has already raised more than $13 million for his race and is known as a savvy, ruthless campaigner.
Grimes, meanwhile, will likely receive support and resources from national Democrats who have been trying to target McConnell during this election cycle. The better she does in polling, the more likely she is to receive campaign funding from outside resources.
The poll surveyed 1,210 voters by phone from July 19 and July 21 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percent.