The biggest revelation of this poll may be in Eastern Kentucky. In the late-August version of the poll McConnell was ahead 54-39 in coal-heavy region, but now he has only a 48-37 lead in that region. However, each of those numbers could vary by 8.2 percentage points because the regional sample was much smaller. His margin in Western Kentucky saw a smaller drop.
Another surprise is the 10 percent of voters who said they were undecided, which is up 3 percentage points from the August poll. The share of undecided voters normally declines as an election draws closer.
McConnell has been building a lead in polls for two months, so political scientists said they would be somewhat skeptical until they saw other polls showing a trend to Grimes.
Registered voters' view of the candidates remained about the same, but in Eastern Kentucky the favorable opinion of both dropped, and Grimes had the bigger decline. In August 37 percent each said they viewed her favorably and unfavorably; this time her rating was 31 percent favorable and 46 percent unfavorable.
The McConnell campaign quickly put out a press release calling the results "an obvious outlier" from other polls. Twenty minutes later, the campaign announced McConnell would be visiting Eastern Kentucky tomorrow.
Two questions tested the effectiveness of each campaign's main message. Grimes did a little better on this front; 57 percent of voters polled agreed with the statement, "Mitch McConnell has been in office for 30 years and it's time for him to be replaced by someone else." Thirty percent disagreed. McConnell’s main pitch, that a vote for Grimes is a vote for President Obama, does appear to be working, as 49 percent of voters agreed with the statement, "Grimes will simply vote for President Barack Obama's agenda," while 37 percent disagreed. For a national story from CBS Local, click here.
The poll called 800 Kentucky residents, 79 percent of whom were likely to vote in the November election. Turnout on Election Day will probably be much lower, about 50 percent, since this is a non-presidential midterm cycle. The poll is sponsored by The Courier-Journal, the Lexington Herald-Leader, Louisville's WHAS-TV and Lexington's WKYT-TV. For the full results, click here.