Poll of Kentucky Dems Shows Clinton with Narrow Lead, Strong Crossover Support for Trump

A new poll of Kentucky Democratic primary voters shows Hillary Clinton with a 5-point lead, 43-38, over rival Bernie Sanders in the quest for the Democratic nomination. 19% had yet to make up their minds. The poll was conducted by Public Policy Polling, a leading national polling firm. It surveyed 501 likely Democratic primary voters in Kentucky and has a margin of error or 4.4%.

The poll also shows Donald Trump capturing a surprising percentage of Democratic primary voters in head-to-head general election matchups against both candidates. Donald Trump receives a shocking 37% of the Kentucky Democratic primary vote in a hypothetical contest against Clinton, and 38% against Sanders.

In another notable finding, nearly one in five likely voters in the Democratic primary do not believe a woman is capable of being an effective Commander-in-Chief. But the numbers are even worse for an atheist and socialist candidate: 68% of Kentucky Democrats believe that an atheist cannot be an effective president with 9% unsure, and 41% believe that a socialist cannot be an effective president with 21% unsure.

The demographic breakdowns tell a story familiar to observers of the Democratic primary. Senator Sanders has a slight lead among white voters, but Clinton’s overall margin is fueled by an overwhelming 60-point lead among African-Americans. There are also significant divides by age and gender: Clinton carries women by 17 points, while Sanders has a 9-point edge among men. Sanders also has a double-digit lead among voters 45 and younger, but that is dwarfed by Clinton’s 43-point advantage among voters 65 and older.

Other findings of interest include:

  • Clinton’s strong performance even among white voters in Kentucky is somewhat surprising given Sanders’ 28-point lead in neighboring Appalachian state West Virginia.
  • Both Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren were presented as potential primary candidates in order to judge potential sexism and anti-establishment sentiment in the electorate. Elizabeth Warren received 27% of the vote compared to Clinton’s 49%, while Biden received 37% to Clinton’s 43%. Joe Biden, meanwhile, defeated Sanders in the head-to-head by four percentage points. This may partly be explained by greater name recognition of Biden over Warren, but given other findings it suggests that sexism may a stronger factor in the electorate than anti-establishment sentiment.
  • Notably, 10% of Democratic women felt that a woman could not be an effective Commander-in-Chief.
  • Resistance to a socialist candidate increases significantly with age: 48% of Kentucky Democratic voters 18-45 believe that a socialist can be an effective president. This drops to 36% for those 45-65, and only 24% for those older than 65.
  • This age-related phenomenon does not hold true for atheism, however: young voters are just as likely to reject an atheist candidate as older ones.
  • Interestingly, African-American Democrats are far more likely to reject a socialist candidate than are white Democrats: 38% of white Democrats do not believe that a socialist can be an effective president, while a full 62% of African-American voters reject a socialist. Atheism, predictably, is even more polarizing: 66% of white Kentucky Democrats reject an atheist, while 90% of black Kentucky Dems do likewise.
  • These racial disparities suggest that the loyalty of the southern African-American Democratic vote to Clinton over Sanders may be partly based on more conservative views on economics and religion.
  • Strikingly, there was not a large disparity (given margins of error) between white and black crossover voting for Trump: while 38% of whites said they would vote for Trump over Clinton, 31% of blacks also said they would vote Trump over Clinton. (The crossover vote for Trump against Sanders was very similar at 39% for whites and 32% for blacks.)
  • Men liked Trump much better than Rubio, but women did not have a significantly different reaction to the two candidates. While 49% of Kentucky Democratic men would vote for Trump over either Sanders or Clinton, only 42% of men would vote for Rubio over Clinton, and only 33% for Rubio over Sanders. Women, on the other hand, were mostly unchanged regardless: only 26% would vote for either Trump or Rubio over Clinton, and 27% and 25% for Trump over Sanders and Rubio over Sanders respectively. This suggests that Democratic women in Kentucky have more of an antipathy to the Republican Party generally speaking than to Trump personally.

Full disclosure: the poll was commissioned with private funding by The Pollux Group, a strategic research and political strategy firm of which I am a principal. The full PDF of the poll with cross-tabs can be found here.