The Democrats Are Not Going to Beat Mitch McConnell in 2014

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Wikimedia Commons)

Senator Mitch McConnell has led the Republicans in an unprecedented abuse of the filibuster to stop the Senate from passing much of anything. It’s understandable that Democrats would hope to unseat him when he is up for reelection in 2014. The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that a recent poll found that only 17% of Kentuckians plan to vote for McConnell, while 34% plan to vote against him, without even knowing the opponent, which has raised Democratic hopes:

State Democratic Party Chairman Dan Logsdon said the poll shows that McConnell’s time in office is about to end.

“I think Sen. McConnell’s record is finally catching up to him. You can’t go to Washington and have your sole purpose not to help Kentucky or not to get us out of our economic situation,” Logsdon said, noting that McConnell once said his primary goal was to make President Barack Obama a one-term president. “People are sick and tired of this.”

But is McConnell’s problem with Kentucky voters really based on his dogged opposition to President Obama, who carried only four out of 120 counties in the 2012 election? Recall that McConnell won a tough reelection against a solid Democratic candidate in 2008, which was maybe the worst year ever to be a Republican. If he could win in 2008, why would things be different for Democrats in 2014?

McConnell is still vulnerable, but not in a general election. Looking closer at the poll, we see that only 34% of Republicans are committed to supporting McConnell, and the United Kentucky Tea Party is recruiting a challenger for the Republican primary. That’s McConnell’s real concern, and probably why he hired the former campaign manager of fellow Kentucky Senator and Tea Party icon Rand Paul.

It’s not that Democrats should give up on Kentucky, but 2014 is going to be a tough election for Senate Democrats, who are defending all the seats they won in the 2008 landslide. Democrats should think long and hard before committing resources to a long shot in Kentucky.

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