Opinion Brief

Rand Paul's poll slump: 5 theories

A new poll shows support drying up for the Tea Party-backed candidate in Kentucky's senate race. Why?

If a new poll is to be believed, voter support for the GOP's anti-establishment Senate nominee in Kentucky has taken a big hit in recent weeks. According to new survey from Public Policy Polling, Rand Paul — son of Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) — is now running roughly even with his lesser-known Democrat opponent, Jack Conway, in a state long considered a "Republican stronghold." Paul's favorability rating, which was net positive in December, is now net negative. Here are 5 opinions on why the grassroots darling seems to be struggling to win over voters: (Watch a local report about Rand Paul's struggling campaign)

Paul went back on a key campaign pledgeDuring the primary season, Rand Paul pledged not to accept campaign donations from any lawmaker who voted for the Wall Street bailout. But little more than a month after he won the nomination, the GOP candidate was feted at a Washington fundraiser hosted by Senator Mitch McConnell and attended by eight other Republican senators who voted for the bill. At least one voter told CNN that Paul's U-turn could change his support. "That's a deal breaker," said Tea Party activist Paul Roman.

His Tea Party views are too extremePaul's views, "rooted in his Tea Party and libertarian beliefs," are costing him, says Bruce Drake in Politics Daily. Controversial statements on the Civil Rights Act, Medicare, health care and unemployment have alienated many Kentuckians, with 1 in 4 now saying he is too conservative.

Bad press has taken a tollThe poll suggests that "negative media coverage of Paul's past opposition to the Civil Rights Act" may have done him some harm, says Eric Kleefeld at Talking Points Memo. More than a third (38 percent) of voters say press coverage of Paul's views has made it less likely they will vote for him. But only 36 percent think the media has treated him fairly.

Voters are getting to know the "real" Rand PaulIt seems the more Kentucky voters get to know Paul, the more they dislike him, says Jon Walker at Firedoglake. All Conway has to do is "turn the spotlight on Paul," and expose him as an extremist. To know him is "not to love him." 

This poll is wrong"Color me skeptical" about this poll, says Jim Geraghty at the National Review. Granted, some of Paul's controversial remarks might "drive some Republicans to stay home." But a five point swing in a state known to have "pretty darn low" approval of Obama and the Democrats? Not even Paul can "single-handedly repel GOP voters eager to send a message to Washington."

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