KENTUCKY — New polling shows incumbent Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear ahead of each of his potential GOP challengers in head-to-head matchups for the governor's race.
The polling, conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling, surveyed 625 registered Kentucky voters and 404 likely Republican voters from Jan. 18 through 23.
Kentucky voters gave Beshear another bump in his approval ratings, with 61% approving his handling of the job, while 29% disapprove. That’s a boost over last year’s Mason-Dixon poll, when 60% of Kentuckians approved and 32% disapproved of his job performance. The findings were consistent with a Morning Consult poll released two weeks ago that found Beshear’s approval rating to be 60%, making him the most popular Democratic governor in the country.
In head-to-head polling with the top four GOP contenders, Beshear holds significants leads over each of them. Attorney General Daniel Cameron is currently polling the strongest against Beshear, but still trailed by nine points, 49%-40%, with 11% of total voters saying they are undecided. The incumbent Democrat has double-digit leads over the other leading GOP candidates, topping former U.N. Ambassador Kelly Craft by 57%-32%, Commissionor of Agriculture Ryan Quarles 52%-35% and State Auditor Mike Harmon 53%-33%.
As far as the GOP field, Cameron is the clear early Rpublican frontrunner, holding a 20-point lead over Craft (39%-13%). He was endorsed by former President Donald Trump as soon as he announced his campaign. Craft, a Trump appointee, has poured more than $1 million in early ad buys for TV in order to familiarize voters with her.
Quarles (8%) and Harmon (5%) both garnered only single digit support. However, 28% of likely GOP primary voters said they are undecided.
The polling gives early insight into a governor’s race that has drawn some national attention. On its face, Beshear is up for re-election in a state that continues to shift red — where Trump won in 2020 by almost 26 points. However, Beshear has consistently had high approval marks from the state despite that fact. But approval numbers don’t translate directly into votes.
For the GOP field, the polling also revealed a significant name-recognition problem. Beshear holds almost universal name recognition in the state, with 96% of voters knowing who he is. A total of 83% of Kentucky voters recognized Cameron, making him the most well-known in the GOP field. After that, 47% of voters recognized Craft, despite her large TV campaign; 43% recognized Quarles and 39% recognized Harmon.
The Mason-Dixon poll interviewed 625 registered voters across the state, as well as an additional 404 likely Republican primary voters. Those interviewed were randomly selected from a Kentucky voter registration list, using both land-lines and cell phone numbers. The margin of error for the poll is +/- 4 perentage points for statewide polling and +/- 5 percentage points for primary polling.