Amy McGrath Takes Narrow Lead Over Mitch McConnell in Kentucky Senate Race, Poll Shows

Democratic senatorial candidate Amy McGrath appears to have a very narrow lead over Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky's race, according to a recent poll.

The polling, which was conducted by RMG Group, shows McGrath, a former Marine fighter pilot, with the support of 41 percent of voters, while McConnell is backed by 40 percent. However, the polling also showed that when voters are informed that McGrath supports congressional term limits while McConnell does not, her lead over the Republican jumps significantly.

With the candidates' positions on term limits factored in, McGrath was backed by 45 percent of respondents, while McConnell was supported by just 30 percent. But 17 percent of those surveyed were still undecided, and 8 percent said they'd vote for a different candidate.

Amy McGrath
Amy McGrath address supporters at the EKU Center for the Arts on November 6, 2018 in Richmond, Kentucky Jason Davis/Getty

"What this shows is that after 35 years of Mitch McConnell's partisanship and dysfunction, Kentuckians are ready for change. Lieutenant Colonel Amy McGrath believes in ending lifelong careers in the Senate and strongly supports a limit of two terms. Mitch McConnell has proven that being in office for decades has led to the politics of destruction and the Washington, D.C., swamp that everyone hates," Terry Sebastian, McGrath's senior communications strategist, told Newsweek in a statement.

Newsweek reached out to press representatives for McConnell for comment but did not hear back before publication.

McConnell is the longest-serving senator from Kentucky in U.S. history. The Republican first entered the Senate back in 1985. He took over as Senate minority leader in 2007 and became majority leader in 2015 after Republicans retook control of the chamber.

McConnell has proudly claimed the title of "Grim Reaper," boasting publicly about how he has thwarted Democratic legislation. In April 2019, he said he would block any progressive Democratic legislation brought to the Senate if his party still holds the majority following the November elections.

"If I'm still the majority leader of the Senate after next year, none of those things are going to pass the Senate," he told a crowd of supporters in Kentucky.

"They won't even be voted on. So think of me as the Grim Reaper: the guy who is going to make sure that socialism doesn't land on the president's desk," the senator said.

Mitch McConnell
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks to the media on May 19 following the weekly Republican Senate policy luncheon. Democrats have made ousting McConnell a priority but face an uphill battle in deeply conservative Kentucky. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty

Democrats have made ousting McConnell a priority but face an uphill battle in deeply conservative Kentucky. Thus far, McGrath has significantly outperformed McConnell in fundraising. As of April, she had taken in $12.8 million during the first fundraising quarter of the year, compared with McConnell's $7.5 million.

McGrath has not yet secured her party's nomination, as the Kentucky primary will be held June 23. Several other candidates are seeking the nomination, but McGrath has received the most attention and support from the party.

Following the 2019 victory of Kentucky's Democratic Governor Andy Beshear, in which he ousted a deeply unpopular Republican governor, Matt Bevin, Democrats have expressed optimism that they could flip McConnell's seat in 2020. But analysts have noted that Republicans largely swept all other major races in the state that year, which suggested that Beshear's victory was more a referendum on Bevin specifically and not the GOP.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly said that Governor Andy Beshear won Kentucky's gubernatorial election in 2018. He won and took office in 2019.