PPP's newest Kentucky poll finds mostly good news for Rand Paul:
-At least for now it looks like Paul would be a safe bet if he decided to run for reelection to the Senate in 2016. He has a 47/39 approval spread and in a hypothetical match up with his toughest potential opponent, Steve Beshear, he would lead by a 9 point margin at 50/41. The seat could get interesting if Paul decided not to run for reelection though- Beshear would lead Thomas Massie 45/30 in a hypothetical Senate contest.
-By an 18 point margin, 44/26, Kentuckians say that Paul is their favorite of the state's two Senators. Republicans in particular like Paul better than Mitch McConnell, 56/31, but Democrats like Paul more by a 32/24 spread as well.
The news is a little more mixed when it comes to Paul and a potential 2016 Presidential bid:
-Paul leads the Republican primary field with 25% to 18% for Mike Huckabee, 15% for Jeb Bush, 8% for Chris Christie and Marco Rubio, 7% for Ted Cruz, 5% for Scott Walker, 4% for Paul Ryan, and 3% for Bobby Jindal. Although it's always good to be in the lead Paul's standing doesn't seem particularly impressive for his home state, and it shows how formidable Huckabee will be if he actually ends up deciding to enter the race.
-Only 34% of voters in the state want Paul to run for President in 2016, compared to 50% who think he should sit it out. Nevertheless Paul performs the best of any potential GOP candidate in the state against Hillary Clinton, leading her 49/43. Clinton would also trail Bush 48/43 and Huckabee 47/44 in Kentucky but would hold leads over Chris Christie at 44/41 and Ted Cruz at 46/41.
Moving onto non-Rand Paul related topics:
-We continue to find very strong support in Kentucky for increasing the minimum wage to $10 an hour, 58/34. In addition to 75% favor from Democrats it also receives a majority among independents (52/32) and even has the backing of 35% of Republicans.
-The wheels are turning slowly when it comes to public opinion about gay marriage in Kentucky, but they are moving nonetheless. 30% of voters in the state support it to 61% who are opposed, which represents a 7 point net increase in support from a year ago when only 27% of voters favored it and 65% were against. We are now beginning to see broader support for legal rights for gay couples at least in the form of civil unions- 56% of Kentuckians are in favor of those to just 41% opposed to recognition of any kind.
-Last week Republican Congressmen were in the news for making comments about Democrats waging a war on white people and undocumented immigrants from Central America bringing Ebola into the United States. On the first comment we find Republicans in Kentucky agree- by a 42/28 spread they think Democrats are indeed waging a war on white people. Overall only 27% of voters think Democrats are doing that to 51% who disagree. There's less agreement on the Ebola issue- 19% of Kentuckians think immigrants are bringing Ebola into the country compared to 51% who think they are not.
-Kentucky continues to have one of the most lopsided college sports rivalries in the country- 64% of voters say they're Wildcats fans compared to only 20% who side with the Cardinals. There are mixed feelings in the Louisville fan base about the hiring of Bobby Petrino to return as football coach. 45% support it, 22% are opposed, and for 33% the jury is out. There don't seem to be any hard feelings toward Charlie Strong about his departure- he still sports a 58/8 favorability rating with the school's fan base. Rick Pitino (89/5) and John Calipari's (86/3) poll numbers among their school's fans are about as good as we ever see for anyone we poll on in any walk of life.
-Finally when it comes to baseball loyalties Kentucky continues to be Reds country. 40% of voters in the state say they're Cincinnati fans to 10% for the Cardinals, 7% for the Braves and Cubs, and 5% for the Red Sox and Yankees.
Full results here