Kenny Hulshof holds a double-digit lead over rival Sarah Steelman in the Republican primary for Governor, according to Hulshof campaign polling numbers provided exclusively to the KY3 Political Notebook. But even the Hulshof campaign internals reveal that a wide swath of the electorate is still undecided.
Kenny Hulshof 39%
Sarah Steelman 26%
The poll was conducted by American Viewpoint Inc. out of Alexandria, Virginia between June 9th and 10th. The sample was 600 voters and it has a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.
The release of these numbers is an attempt to further solidify Hulshof as the frontrunner in this increasingly combative Republican primary. It is also an attempt by the Hulshof campaign to show how the Congressman has grown as a candidate since the start of the race in late January.
Overall, Hulshof holds a 13-point lead. In Feburary, Hulshof lead by 10 points, 36%-26%, according to the Viewpoint poll.
"Even with being out-spent 2 to 1, Kenny has an advantage statewide, slightly extending his lead from the end of February," wrote Linda DiVall and Randall Gutermuth in a memo to the campaign about their findings. "The more voters know both candidates, the larger Kenny's lead becomes."
Sarah Steelman's campaign declined to release its own polling right now. Spokesperson Spence Jackson questioned the credibility of the pollster.
"This polling firm has produced inaccurate polls in several high profile races including Jim Talent, Bill Hickle and Bob Behnen," Jackson told the KY3 Political Notebook. "It also doesn't take into account our contrast ads or the fact that most people in the state don't even know he's a big spending Congressman yet."
In southwest Missouri (which includes both Springfield and Joplin areas,) Hulshof is holding onto a 37%-34% lead, according to the Hulshof camp's numbers.
"It should be noted that Kenny was behind by a wide margin in Southwest Missouri in early March," said Hulshof spokesperson Scott Baker.
Only 50 percent of the electorate is aware of both candidates. But among those people, Hulshof extends his lead 53% to 27%. Only 24 percent of the electorate has a favorable opinion of both candidates -- and among that group, Hulshof leads 65%-24%, according to the Viewpoint numbers.
"The paid and earned media back-and-forth is clearly an advantage for Hulshof in terms of impact, likely a main factor in the Steelman campaign running negative advertising so early," wrote DiVall and Gutermuth.
- 37% of voters polled have seen, read or heard something regarding Steelman, compared with 35% for Hulshof.
- Among people who have seen, read or heard something regarding both candidates (21%), Hulshof leads 54%-31%.
DiVall and Gutermuth write that "the problems Steelman has had on the earned media front has definitely impacted her standing." The pollsters come to that conclusion by downplaying the number that shows Steelman "only" leading 43%-38% among those who have seen, read or heard something regarding her in the past few weeks.
"It is obviously a long time between now and the primary, but Kenny is the clear front-runner," DiVall and Gutermuth conclude.