McConnell, Tuberville Lead Key Senate Races By 17-Point Margins, New Poll Shows

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and former coach Tommy Tuberville of Alabama are both leading their Senate races by double-digit margins—a good sign for Republicans as the party tries to hold onto majority control of the chamber this election cycle.

A series of surveys from Morning Consult released Tuesday found McConnell up in Kentucky by 17-points, even though his approval ratings have been declining as negotiations for the next coronavirus relief package have stalled. Fifty-three percent of likely voters said they would back McConnell for a seventh term, while 36 percent said they would support Democrat Amy McGrath.

In Alabama, political newcomer Tuberville is already ahead of Democratic incumbent Doug Jones by 17-points. The former football coach who took down former Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a runoff last month had 52 percent support from likely voters compared with Jones's 35 percent.

The wide advantages are a rare positive for Senate Republicans in the race for control of the chamber. Election forecasters have recently warned that President Donald Trump's steep drop in the polls could have disastrous effects for conservative candidates across the country. Democrats need to flip four or five seats to retake the Senate, a scenario that analysts say is within reach.

Of the four red states polled—Alabama, Kentucky, South Carolina, Texas—the closest race was in South Carolina where Republican incumbent Lindsey Graham is facing a tough re-election against Democrat Jaime Harrison.

The survey found the two candidates to be in a statistical tie. Graham, one of Trump's biggest allies on Capitol Hill, garnered 44 percent support compared to Harrison's 43 percent. Harrison has outraised Graham so far this year, bringing in nearly $14 million in the second quarter alone. But Graham still has more cash on hand, with $15 million in the bank heading into the final months of the election.

In Texas, a state where Democrats have set their sights on winning a statewide election for the first time in 26 years, Republican incumbent John Cornyn has a comfortable lead. He garnered 44 percent support from likely voters, compared to Democrat M.J. Hegar's 38 percent support.

With fewer than 100 days until the November 3 contest, multiple paths have opened for Democrats to win a majority in the Senate as Republicans are stuck defending 23 of the 36 seats up for grabs this cycle.

In the four battleground Senate races pollsters say are crucial to the outcome of the 2020 election—Arizona, Colorado, Maine and North Carolina—liberal challengers have been outraising and outpolling conservative incumbents.

While largely playing defense this election cycle, the GOP has two opportunities to gain Senate seats. In Alabama, Jones is seen as one of the most vulnerable Democrats up for re-election. In Michigan, Republicans are hoping newcomer John James can pull off a major upset against Democratic Senator Gary Peters.

The Morning Consult surveys were conducted from July 24 to August 2. Results were collected from 609 likely voters in Alabama, which had a 4-point margin of error; 793 likely voters in Kentucky, which had a 3-point margin of error; 741 likely voters in South Carolina, which had a 4-point margin of error; and 2,576 likely voters in Texas, which had a 2-point margin of error.

mitch mcconnell senate race polling
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) walks to the Senate floor at the U.S. Capitol on July 30, 2020, in Washington, D.C. The latest polling of the Kentucky Senate race found McConnell ahead by 17 points. Drew Angerer/Getty