On Friday, an Emerson College poll was released revealing a stunning change when it comes to the Kentucky gubernatorial race. The poll shows incumbent Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear tied with Republican nominee Daniel Cameron, who currently serves as the commonwealth’s attorney general.
While the two men enjoy 47 percent support each, and 4 percent are undecided, when pushed Cameron has an edge of 49 percent to Beshear’s 48 percent.
All of these findings are within the most recent poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. The poll was conducted October 30-November 2 with 1,000 likely voters in Kentucky.
What makes these results even more shocking is how different they are from last month’s poll that Emerson College conducted, when Beshear led with 49 percent to Cameron’s 33 percent. Thirteen percent were undecided at the time.
As the poll’s write-up discussed, it’s a matter of both Beshear’s support decreasing, while Cameron’s increases:
Since last month’s poll of registered Kentucky voters, Beshear’s initial support has decreased by two points, 49% to 47%, while support for Cameron increased 14 points from 33% to 47%. Undecided voters have reduced by nine points, from 13% undecided to 4% ahead of the Tuesday election.
Spencer Kimball, Executive Director of Emerson College Polling, said, “Cameron appears to have gained ground by consolidating Republican voters who supported former President Donald Trump in the 2020 election. In October, 54% of Trump supporters supported Cameron; now, as election day approaches, that number has jumped to 79% – a 25-point increase. Notably, October’s poll was of registered voters in Kentucky, while this final election poll includes only those who are very likely or have already voted in Kentucky.”
Support for Cameron has increased among older voters in Kentucky since the October poll. A majority of voters (58%) ages 50-69 now support Cameron for governor, a 22-point increase from October, where Cameron held 36% support among the same age group. Beshear’s support among 50-69-year-olds has dropped 9 points since October, from 49% to 40%.
Independent voters remain split between the two candidates; 48% support Cameron, while 46% support Beshear. Six percent would vote for someone else.
Polling out of Kentucky can be tricky, especially given that polls aren’t conducted there all that much, as was covered at the time in a VIP analysis. As Kentucky Republicans also pointed out at the time last month’s poll was released, polls have underestimated Republican candidates.
In a piece for the Washington Examiner, also published on Friday, Salena Zito pointed to how the momentum appears to be for Cameron with “Momentum shifts in Kentucky in the race everyone should be talking about.””
“Even before the new poll from Emerson College came out Friday morning, the ground was shifting in Daniel Cameron’s favor across the state in the Republican Kentucky attorney general’s race against incumbent Gov. Andy Beshear (D-KY) for the state’s highest office,” Zito began her piece with.
“Much like Cameron’s successful run for Kentucky attorney general in 2019, where he made history as both the first black person from either party to win statewide office and the first Republican in 70 years to be the commonwealth’s top prosecutor, his candidacy has been largely ignored by the national press and vilified by the local press,” she continued. As we covered in May, the Courier-Press published a column smearing Cameron, Republicans, and Kentucky on a whole, focusing on how the Republican nominee is a black man.
Especially if Cameron pulls off a victory, this race might be similar to the 2021 Virginia gubernatorial election, where the Republican, now Gov. Glenn Youngkin emerged victorious. He had been running against former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat who was elected in 2013 but was prohibited from running again in 2017 by the state constitution prohibiting back-to-back terms. McAuliffe was not only a favorite going into the race, but had been leading in the polls until the final few weeks before the election. Youngkin ended up winning with 50.6 percent of the vote.