Republican poll shows Beshear and Cameron tied in race for governor
A new poll from Republican firm Cygnal shows Democratic incumbent Gov. Andy Beshear and Republican challenger Daniel Cameron in a dead heat in the race for governor, five months out from the General Election.
The poll, released on Thursday, places both Beshear and Cameron with 47% of the vote, with just seven percent of voters still undecided.
In a statement, Cygnal pollster Brent Buchanan said the results show that Republicans can capitalize on swing voters’ overwhelming disapproval of President Joe Biden, giving GOP candidates an advantage in Kentucky’s elections. Sean Southard, spokesperson for the Republican Party of Kentucky, also said in a statement the poll is “bad news for Andy Beshear.”
But Stephen Voss, a political science professor at the University of Kentucky, said Republicans won’t necessarily succeed in nationalizing the state’s gubernatorial race.
“Nothing about these polling results guarantee that we will see a shift toward the Republicans later on,” Voss said. “It’s an assumption that the Republican party will be able to nationalize the race and make our governor’s election about Joe Biden.”
Alex Floyd, communications director for Beshear’s campaign, said the Kentucky GOP is trying to nationalize the race because they lack confidence in Cameron’s ability to win.
“Because Andy remains one of the most popular governors in the country, Republicans are now admitting publicly what they have known privately for months: if this race is about Daniel Cameron and Andy Beshear, they will lose,” Floyd said.
According to the poll, 94% of swing voters in Kentucky disapprove of Biden, but 81% are favorable towards Beshear.
Voss said voters evaluate governors differently than they do presidents and senators, meaning it’s still unclear whether swing voters – even those who disapprove of Biden – will lean towards Cameron in the race for governor.
Northern Kentucky political scientist Ryan Salzman echoed Voss’ assessment. He said the most staunchly anti-Biden voters are likely already represented in the poll’s pro-Cameron base – and it’s still unclear which direction undecided voters will lean.
Salzman said he’s not surprised Beshear and Cameron are neck and neck, adding that he would have expected similar results with any of the GOP frontrunners in the primary election. Kentucky’s electorate is increasingly Republican.
“This is a very Republican state,” Salzman said. “If anything, Andy Beshear polling at 47% is a testament to how strong he’s doing.”
The biggest deciding factor, Salzman said, will be turnout in November. Fewer Kentuckians than usual took advantage of early voting in the primary elections last month, contributing to low voter turnout.
Also according to the Cygnal poll, Republican Russell Coleman has a 10 percentage point lead over Democrat Pamela Stevenson in the race for attorney general.
The General Election is on Nov. 7.