A Big Red Poll released Monday shows Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jack Conway with a 5 percentage point lead over Republican candidate Matt Bevin, while a poll of other state races released Tuesday showed Democrats leading in three of the other five contests.

The poll of 770 likely voters was conducted Oct. 19 through Sunday by Western Kentucky University’s Social Science Research Center. It shows Conway, the state’s attorney general, with the support of 45 percent of Kentucky voters while Louisville businessman Bevin has the support of 40 percent. Independent candidate Drew Curtis has 7 percent support, and 8 percent were undecided.

One week before the election, it “looks like people are starting to solidify their support,” said Joel Turner, director of the Social Science Research Center. Bevin “has some ground to make up,” he said, as Conway’s lead is larger than the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.

“I would not put a lot of stock in a poll posted to a blog – in everything we’ve seen this race is very tight,”  Bevin said in a statement to the Daily News. “We are campaigning all over the state and garnering a lot of enthusiasm and excitement at every stop. We feel very good about the fact that we are closing in as our message gets out.”

The Conway campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

The previous Big Red Poll was for the U.S. Senate race between Mitch McConnell and Alison Grimes last year, and Turner said he was surprised that McConnell had stronger support among self-identified tea party members that year than Bevin has now. The 2014 poll showed McConnell with the support of 87 percent of self-identified tea partiers while Bevin has the support of 75 percent of tea partiers this year.

Tuesday’s down-ticket poll showed:

•For attorney general, Democrat Andy Beshear leads Republican Whitney Westerfield 42 to 36 percent.

•For secretary of state, Democrat Grimes leads Republican Steve Knipper 46 to 35 percent.

•For state auditor, Democrat Adam Edelen leads Republican Mike Harmon 40 to 35 percent.

•For state treasurer, Republican Allison Ball leads Democrat Rick Nelson 37 to 32 percent.

•For agriculture commissioner, Republican Ryan Quarles leads Democrat Jean-Marie Lawson Spann 37 to 30 percent.

“It seems like it’s setting up nicely for Democrats,” Turner said. “Leading in four of six races is always good.” 

Conway was viewed favorably by 35 percent of likely voters opposed to 28 percent who have an unfavorable view; 33 percent had a favorable view of Bevin, as opposed to 36 percent who have an unfavorable view. The majority of respondents (57 percent) had no opinion on Curtis.

Among Democrats, Conway leads Bevin 85 to 5 percent, and among liberals Conway leads 84 to 6 percent. Among Republicans, Bevin leads Conway 80 to 12 percent and among conservatives, Bevin leads 65 to 23 percent. Conway leads among independents by a margin of 40 to 30 percent and among moderate voters 60 to 26 percent. 

“There is also evidence of a gender gap in Kentucky,” according to the poll’s executive summary. Conway leads among female voters 51 to 34 percent, while Bevin leads among male voters, 46 to 41 percent.

— Follow Daily News city government reporter Wes Swietek on Twitter at twitter.com/BGDNgovtbeat or visit bgdailynews.com.


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