Now that Kentucky GOP Senate candidate Rand Paul
is facing general election voters, he is finding the momentum days of his primary race behind him with a new poll putting him in a tie with Democrat Jack Conway
, the state's attorney general.
Paul and Conway each get 43 percent support from voters with 14 percent undecided, according to a Public Policy Polling survey
conducted June 28-30.
Part of the reason appears to be that Paul's past statements, rooted in his Tea Party and libertarian beliefs, are costing him. Thirty-eight percent say that national media coverage of Paul's views has made it less likely that they would support him, compared to 29 percent who said it made them more likely, with 33 percent undecided. The margin of error is 3.9 points.
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.
A Rasmussen Reports poll
conducted June 1 had Paul ahead by 49 percent to 41 percent.
While Paul's most controversial comments so far, casting doubts about whether he would have supported provisions of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, had been reported in the state press, they got their biggest airing when he was grilled about them during an interview
with liberal talk show host Rachel Maddow on MSNBC. Paul appeared to suggest that the law's non-discrimination provisions should not have applied to private business. He later backed off the remarks.
Sixty-eight percent of voters surveyed said they supported the Civil Rights Act and 83 percent said private businesses should not be allowed to discriminate on the basis of race.
But past comments by Paul on other subjects -- such as Medicare and health care -- have also been scrutinized within the state, with the Louisville Courier-Journal
running a long piece, complete with YouTube videos, of potentially-controversial remarks Paul had made dating back to 1998.
While a plurality said all this had made it less likely they'd support Paul, 42 percent believe the press has been unfair to him while 36 percent consider the coverage fair, with 23 percent undecided. And 45 percent consider Paul's views to be "about right" while 26 percent say he is too conservative and 16 percent consider him too liberal, with 13 percent undecided.
About the same number -- 42 percent -- say Conway's views are about right, with 36 percent regarding him as too liberal and 7 percent as too conservative, with 15 percent undecided.
"The nation's interest in Rand Paul's personality has helped Conway gain supporters," said PPP's Dean Debnam. "But if Conway wants to win the election he needs to earn the votes of Kentuckians, especially within his own party, based on his own merits."
Conway is drawing 65 percent support from fellow Democrats while Paul gets 72 percent from Republicans.