Large majorities of Lexington leaders tell this month’s bipartisan Power Poll that they plan to vote against three Republican incumbents: Sixth District U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump.
Power Poll isn’t a scientific poll. But because it asks questions of a large group of metro Lexington’s public officials, community leaders and influencers, it offers interesting insights into the opinions of many of the people who run Central Kentucky.
This month’s survey drew responses from 89 of 186 active members, or 48 percent. (Only members who respond to at least one survey over several months remain active and continue to receive monthly surveys on pressing local and state issues via email.)
Normally, we would wait another month before asking about the bitterly contested Nov. 3 general election. But the coronavirus pandemic has changed everything, including the election. To reduce possible exposure, Kentucky is already mailing absentee ballots to people who requested them, and next month officials will open early-voting stations.
Every Power Poll member who responded to this survey said they plan to vote, and few were undecided.
Only 22 respondents (25 percent) said they plan to vote for Barr, a lawyer from Lexington who is seeking his fifth two-year term in the U.S. House of Representatives. Sixty-three people (71 percent) said they plan to vote for his Democratic challenger, Josh Hicks, a lawyer, former police officer and U.S. Marines veteran who is originally from Fleming County. Only four people (5 percent) said they were undecided.
McConnell, who has represented Kentucky in the U.S. Senate since 1985 and whose extreme partisanship has made him a polarizing figure, was less popular than Barr. Only 20 members (22 percent) said they plan to vote for McConnell, while 66 members (74 percent) plan to vote for Democratic challenger Amy McGrath. The Northern Kentucky native is a former fighter pilot — the first woman to fly a combat mission for the Marines — who failed two years ago to unseat Barr, losing by nearly 10,000 votes. Only three people (3 percent) said they were undecided in the race.
Trump is even less popular among Power Poll members, with only eight people (9 percent) saying they plan to vote for his re-election. Seventy-three people (82 percent) plan to vote for former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee. Eight people (9 percent) said they were undecided.
Voters in Lexington, like Louisville, tend to be more liberal than those in other parts of the Kentucky, so the Power Poll results are not too surprising. But outside of Lexington and Frankfort, the mostly rural counties that make up the rest of the Sixth Congressional District have become increasingly conservative in their voting. The Barr-Hicks race could be close; most pundits give the edge to Barr.
Statewide polling shows McConnell with a comfortable lead over McGrath. While national polls show former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, leading Trump in the race for president, the incumbent is expected to easily carry Kentucky. In 2016, Trump’s victory margin in the state was 30 percentage points.
With Lexington experiencing high levels of coronavirus transmission, 63 Power Poll members (71 percent) say they plan to vote by mail, compared to 26 (29 percent) who plan to vote in person, either on Nov. 3 or at early-voting stations.
“I plan on voting early,” commented James Clark, executive director of Ashland, the Henry Clay Estate. “I am grateful that our County Clerk Don Blevins has secured so many sites for early voting.”