Is Rand Paul in Trouble?

The Tea Partier's poll numbers are slipping

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Rand Paul's surprise win of the GOP nomination for Kentucky's Senate seat quickly met with controversy. Paul's condemnation of the Civil Rights Act, his Palin-like strategy, and his hard-right positions all drew heated reaction. Even some conservatives condemned his campaign. So now Paul is giving us another surprise: his poll numbers are dropping against Democrat Jack Conway. Could the Republican lose even in the reliably conservative state of Kentucky?

  • Public Policy Polling: They're Now Tied  The polling firm reports both candidates have 43 percent of the vote. PDF of the results here. PPP's Tom Jensen explains, "Paul is winning 72% of the Republican vote to Conway's 65% of the Democratic vote. Kentucky may have the most conservative Democratic voters in the country. If Conway can get more than 80% of the vote from within his own party he'll more than likely win this race, but that may be a tall order when only 58% even of Democrats approve of the President's job performance."
  • Outlier or New Trend?  Outside the Beltway's Doug Mataconis points out, "This poll, from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling, differs from recent polls from Rasmussen and SurveyUSA so it’s unclear if we’re looking at an outlier, or a new trend."
  • Independents Skeptical of Paul's Beliefs  Politics Daily's Bruce Drake writes, "Republicans (37 percent of the sample) said Paul's views made it more likely they would vote for him by a 42 percent to 22 percent margin, Democrats (52 percent of the sample) said it would make them less likely by 49 percent to 21 percent and independents (11 percent of the sample) said it would make them less likely to support Paul by 39 percent to 23 percent, (the balance in each case are undecided). However, independents overall favor Paul by 45 percent to 35 percent with 20 percent undecided."
  • National Media Exposure Killing Paul  Public Policy Polling's Tom Jensen suggests, "The more Kentucky voters get to know Rand Paul, the less they like him. When PPP first polled the race in December Paul's favorability was a +3 spread at 26/23. By May it was a -7 spread at 28/35. Now it's a -8 spread at 34/42. The national media attention Paul has received has hurt his cause with voters in the state- 38% say it has made them less likely to support Paul while 29% say it has made them more inclined to vote for him and 33% say it hasn't had an impact on their attitude toward Paul one way or the other."
  • Criticizing Farm Subsidies Is a Killer  Daily Kos chief Markos Moulitsas notes that Paul has called to ending government farm subsidies. "Putting aside the merits of such subsidy programs (much of that money goes to massive agribusiness conglomerates), fact is that it's a political loser in this heavily agricultural state. Conway can certainly use every advantage he can get."
  • Paul Can't Hide from Media  Commentary's Jennifer Rubin writes, "Paul has a problem. Since his civil rights debacle, he’s largely been hiding from the media. As a result, he’s not giving voters anything positive to counter the overwhelmingly negative media coverage he’s received. He needs to explain his views and assure voters that he’s not an extremist."
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