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Poll Shows Bevin Approval Rating Down, Beshear Winning Head-To-Head

J. Tyler Franklin

Gov. Matt Bevin’s approval rating is at an all-time low, according to a new poll conducted in Kentucky last week.

Statewide, 53 percent of likely voters in Kentucky think Bevin isn’t doing a good job according to Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy. That’s up from a 41 percent disapproval rate last year.

The poll comes after a year in which Bevin has pushed for controversial policies to cut retirement benefits for future state workers and some current ones in an attempt to address Kentucky’s massive pension debt.

Public employees, especially teachers, held massive rallies in Frankfort to oppose a pension measure that Bevin signed into law and that the Kentucky Supreme Court ultimately ruled was unconstitutional.

Over the course of the year, Bevin repeatedly lashed out at his opponents, at one point claiming that children were sexually abused because they were left home alone while teachers protested in Frankfort.

The Mason-Dixon poll asked respondents who they would vote for in head-to-head match-ups between Bevin and potential Democratic opponents in the 2019 gubernatorial race.

Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear holds a significant lead over Bevin with 48 percent backing Beshear, 40 percent backing Bevin and 12 percent undecided.

Beshear is the son of previous Gov. Steve Beshear and has already announced a gubernatorial bid. He has also launched several lawsuits against the governor, including a challenge over the pension law that was struck down by the Kentucky Supreme Court last week.

House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins, a Democrat from Sandy Hook in eastern Kentucky, was favored by 42 percent of likely voters compared to 41 percent for Bevin. Adkins announced his candidacy last month.

Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes was slightly behind Bevin in the poll with 46 percent of likely voters compared to 47 percent for the governor. She has not said whether she’ll run for the office next year.

But Bevin has overcome discouraging polling numbers before. A month before the 2015 gubernatorial election, the Mason-Dixon poll showed Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway beating Bevin 43 to 41 percent. Bevin ended up winning 53 to 44 percent.

This poll was conducted from December 12 through 15 by interviewing 625 registered Kentucky voters using randomly-selected land-line and cell phone numbers.

The Kentucky Supreme Court struck down the pension law on December 13 — right in the middle of the polling window.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives for Kentucky Public Radio, a group of public radio stations including WKMS, WFPL in Louisville, WEKU in Richmond and WKYU in Bowling Green. A native of Lexington, Ryland most recently served as the Capitol Reporter for Kentucky Public Radio. He has covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin.
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