Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, speaks in Fancy Farm, Ky., on Aug. 3, 2013.

Kentucky Senate Showdown Gets Hotter

Polls show McConnell barely leading his Democratic opponent.

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, speaks in Fancy Farm, Ky., on Aug. 3, 2013.

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, is nearly locked in a dead heat with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

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In Kentucky, Senate Minority Leader Republican Mitch McConnell is struggling to fend off Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes. 

Thursday Republican-leaning Wenzel Strategies released a poll showing McConnell and Grimes nearly locked in a dead heat with McConnell leading 43 percent to 42 percent. The one-point lead is well within the three-point margin of error. 

McConnell, however, has a heavy lead on his Republican primary challenger Matt Bevin. The Wenzel Strategies poll showed McConnell with a 59 percent to 17 percent advantage over Bevin. And in a general election, Grimes also maintains a slight three-point lead over the Kentucky businessman. 

The poll is the latest, but not the first, to show the contest in the Bluegrass State is shaping up to be one of the closest races of the 2014 cycle. Another right-leaning February poll from Rasmussen Reports also showed McConnell and Grimes neck-and-neck. 

[READ: Tea Party Sets Its Sights on Mitch McConnell]


While McConnell is among the most powerful Republicans on Capitol Hill, Grimes is shaping up to be a formidable opponent. As the current secretary of state in Kentucky, the Democrat kept pace with McConnell’s fundraising last quarter and has earned key endorsements including that of former President Bill Clinton, who will campaign for her later this month. 

Yet, while the Grimes campaign is touting the close race as a positive sign, the McConnell camp cautions the race won’t be so close after the GOP primary. 

“We think when everything happens in early summer, this is probably not as tight a race as everyone thinks it is right now," Josh Holmes, a senior McConnell adviser, told National Journal Thursday. (http://www.nationaljournal.com/daily/how-mitch-mcconnell-could-win-the-senate-but-lose-his-seat-2014...)

The poll included roughly 1,000 voters and was conducted between Feb. 8 and Feb. 11. The full survey carries a margin of error of plus or minus three points.