Category Archives: Kentucky politics

Campaign Advice for Mitch McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes

[ Note: this essay is cross-posted on Huffington Post and the Commonwealth Duel Blog ]

There’s no shortage of campaign strategy advice in this year’s Kentucky Senate race. In that spirit, I’ll add my own two cents.

If I were advising the McConnell campaign, I would say…

Don’t screw up.

You’re the incumbent and incumbents already enjoy somewhere between a 5%-10% advantage right off the bat, although this does tend to fade over time so it’s not going to be worth as much as it was in the past when you first ran for reelection. Also, the economic and political “fundamentals” are on your side, which is why all the numbers geeks are giving you anywhere between a 78% and 99%+ chance of winning (see here, here, andhere). So basically, just make sure to keep up with the fundraising and campaigning, give your conservative Republican base a reason to turn out to vote for you by railing on Obama and by talking up the strong possibility of a GOP Senate takeover.

And don’t screw up.

If I were advising the Grimes campaign, I would say…

You and I both know that you have an uphill battle to fight. You’re a Democratic challenger in a red state where the sitting Democratic president is very unpopular. But then, your incumbent opponent is also very unpopular in your state, but that tends to matter less than the economic and political fundamentals which are currently giving you a 1-in-5 chance, at best. You’ll need a strong campaign combined with some luck to come out on top this year.

Right now it seems that one of your key strategies is trying to appeal to women, presumably in an attempt to entice Republican women over to your team (seehere, here, and here, e.g.). While it makes for a great media narrative and may possibly work, there are strong reasons to think that this may not be the most effective strategy. To put it bluntly, women simply don’t tend to be swing voters. Oodles of political science research has shown that, after controlling for partisanship, there’s not much of a difference between men and women in their voting patterns. In other words, women are just as reliably partisan as men. The fault lines of American politics do not tend to fall around gender, but rather partisanship and ideology. Thus, there are likely not very many Republican women who are going to “defect” in this high-profile partisan election.

So who are more likely targets where you could concentrate your efforts? I took the liberty of doing some number crunching on an exit poll of Kentucky voters from the 2008 Kentucky Senate election where McConnell narrowly beat Bruce Lunsford 53%-47%. In that election, only about 14% of Republicans voted for Lunsford, and they made up only 5% of all voters total. Further analysis shows that these Republican defectors tended to be a little younger than their loyal partisan counterparts (about 22% of Republican defectors were under age 30 compared to 15% of Republicans who stayed in the fold). They also tended to be poorer (46% of Republican defectors made less than $50K/year compared to 33% of loyal Republicans) and more ideologically moderate (56% of those Republican defectors identified as moderate and 34% as conservative, while those who stuck with McConnell were 37% moderate and 70% conservative).

Perhaps most importantly, there was ZERO difference when it came to gender. 50.7% of Republicans who voted for Lunsford were women compared to 50.4% who voted for McConnell – a statistically indistinguishable amount. This suggests that women are very likely not the persuadable demographic among Republican partisans. Instead, it seems to be younger, poorer, more moderate Republicans.

On the other hand, nearly a quarter of self-identified Democrats switched sides and voted for Mitch McConnell in 2008. They made up a full 11% of all voters in that election. What did these Democrats look like? They were more ideologically conservative (34% of Democratic McConnell voters said they were conservative compared to only 15% of Democratic Lunsford voters), more likely to be white (95% of Democratic defectors were white compared to 72% of loyal Democrats), and more likely to approve of George Bush (34% compared to 10%). They were also slightly more likely to be men, making up 48% of Democrats who voted for McConnell compared to 41% of Democrats who voted for Lunsford. There were also no differences when it came to age, education levels, income, or religiosity. This suggests that in 2008, Lunsford lost Democratic partisans who looked a lot like Republicans – conservative white men who were more approving of President Bush. This suggests that you might have success keeping your Democratic partisans “in the fold” by veering toward the middle and appealing to cultural conservatives in Kentucky as much as possible.

That presents a tough choice: appeal to younger, more moderate Republicans who might be persuaded to defect or appeal to conservative white Democrats who may be likely to switch sides. Given that there were more than twice as many voters in the latter category (11% of all voters) than the former (5% of all voters) in 2008, it stands to reason that veering toward the middle and trying to retain moderate Democratic partisans may be the option with the higher pay-off. That being said, you don’t want to veer too far toward the middle or you might risk alienating your loyal liberal base so much that they don’t care enough to turn out to vote on Election Day. Trying to balance that tightrope walk will be a delicate endeavor indeed.

One thing is for certain, at least: there is little evidence from the 2008 Kentucky Senate election that Republican women were a persuadable demographic in that campaign. It’s possible that the 2014 Senate campaign will be different, but given how consistent and predictable American voting patterns are, I wouldn’t bet on it. Perhaps consider altering the approach slightly. Forget about “peeling off” Republican women and instead focus on loyal Democratic women (to make sure they show up to vote on Election Day) and moderate or conservative-leaning Democratic women (to encourage them to stay in the fold).

Support for the fairness ordinance and education levels

It was brought to my attention that in the City Commission meeting of June 9, Mayor Hunstad raised a concern about the representativeness of our January public issues survey showing that approximately three-fourths of respondents were supportive of a fairness ordinance. He argued that since around two-thirds of respondents had a college education or higher, the survey results are not a valid approximation of the community. Indeed, the U.S. Census reports that only about 26% of Danville residents have a college education or higher. This is indeed an important concern to consider in terms of interpreting the results, but it would skew the estimation of support for a fairness ordinance only if support for a fairness ordinances substantially differs by level of education.

In our survey, here is the breakdown on support for a fairness ordinance by level of education:

  Support Oppose
High school 70.2% 29.8%
College 75.9% 24.1%
Post grad 85.7% 14.3%
Total 76.0% 24.0%

As expected, those with post-graduate degrees are about 15% more supportive of a fairness ordinance. However, those with only high school levels of education who completed the survey were still more than 70% supportive of a fairness ordinance. This implies that the results would not change substantially even if there were more respondents in the survey with less than a college education.

Thus, in the absence of more accurate evidence to the contrary (which is always welcome – more evidence is better than less evidence!), there is little basis to support the argument that the survey results are wildly inaccurate on this question.

Can voters remove a sitting mayor from office in Danville?

Today’s Advocate-Messenger reports that a petition is circulating demanding that Danville Mayor Hunstad resign following his comments toward the LGBT community at the June 9 commission meeting.

Without taking a position one way or another on the merits of such a petition, I’m just going to take a wild guess that he’s not going to accept the petition’s invitation to resign. In that event, is there anything that the petition’s supporters could do to force the resignation of the mayor, or any other city elected official for that matter?

In a word, no. Danville is a third class city under Kentucky law, and KRS 83A.040.9 clearly states:

Except in cities of the first class, any elected officer, in case of misconduct, incapacity, or willful neglect in the performance of the duties of his office, may be removed from office by a unanimous vote of the members of the legislative body exclusive of any member to be removed, who shall not vote in the deliberation of his removal. No elected officer shall be removed without having been given the right to a full public hearing. The officer, if removed, shall have the right to appeal to the Circuit Court of the county and the appeal shall be on the record. No officer so removed shall be eligible to fill the office vacated before the expiration of the term to which originally elected.

In other words, the only way that Mayor Hunstad could be forcibly removed from office is if the other four sitting commissioners vote to remove him. My strong hunch is that there is little desire or motivation for such a move by the other four sitting commissioners. That is very likely a non-starter, unless perhaps the petition is able to gather the signatures of a critical mass of Danville voters – perhaps a third or so of Danville eligible voters (3,000+ signatures, give or take). I would also put that in the “highly unlikely” category.

Note: I’m not an attorney so it’s possible that I misinterpreted the KRS statute or am unaware of a separate provision that would permit such a recall procedure. If such is the case, I welcome any corrections.

Commission voting and voter issue importance

In a recent letter to the editor, Danville Mayor Bernie Hunstad issued some corrections to a newspaper article that had recently been published about the upcoming Boyle County Republican Judge-Executive primary race.

First, he writes that “our commission has voted together 97-plus percent of the time.” He is generally correct in this assertion, although it’s not quite 97%+. An analysis that I published in 2011 shows that the commission voted unanimously on 80.7% of their votes during the summer of 2010 through summer of 2011. A year later that figure had changed to 82.6% for 2011-2012. The latest analysis published last year shows unanimous voting 87.3% of the time from 2012-2013. Regardless of the exact percentages, Mayor Hunstad is correct in that there is much more agreement than disagreement in the Danville City Commission under his tenure, at least measured in terms of roll call voting by commissioners.

He also writes that “the next board will not likely focus on the number one issue with the voters, which is the creation of better jobs and improvement in our local economy.” This is also correct, as evidenced by our 2012 Boyle County Exit Poll which showed a plurality (30%) of Boyle County voters listing “jobs” as the most important problem facing our local community. 38.3% said the same in the 2011 Exit Poll

Publicly opposing Centre College can potentially be smart politics

In Sunday’s Advocate-Messenger, Danville Mayor and Republican candidate for county Judge-Executive Bernie Hunstad identified Centre College among several groups in the community politically opposed to his candidacy: 

 “I believe I am the underdog in the primary, and I believe I will be the underdog in November,” Hunstad said. “I’m running against Lynn, the EDP (Danville-Boyle County Economic Development Partnership), Centre College, the McKinney supporters and the newspaper.” (Page A01 and A08 of April 2oth’s edition; not yet available online.)

As I interpret this comment, Mayor Hunstad was listing groups in the community that he believes are opposed to his candidacy for Judge-Executive. It occurred to me, though, that perhaps by publicly aligning against each of those groups (including Centre College), it may serve to elicit support from potential Republican primary voters who also view those groups unfavorably.

In the 2011 Boyle County Exit Poll, we asked voters whether they agreed or disagreed that “Centre College gets too many unfair advantages within the city of Danville.” This is a measure of implicit “resentment” toward the College, and 26.5% of respondents indicated that they “agree.” It’s possible that by publicly claiming that the Centre College community is opposed to his candidacy, he may increase his support with the quarter of the community that also harbors unfavorable attitudes toward the college. Given that more than a quarter of Danville harbors implicitly resentful attitudes toward Centre, that’s not a bad political strategy. 

(I should note, though, that there doesn’t seem to be a political relationship with feelings of Centre resentment as 26.6% of Democrats compared to 25.6% of Republicans said that they thought that Centre had unfair advantages in the community – a statistically insignificant difference. So there’s no clear advantage for winning a Republican vs. a Democratic primary by aligning against the College.)

Finally, the 2012 Boyle County Exit Poll showed that about 58% of Boyle County had a favorable view of Judge-Executive Democratic incumbent Harold McKinney while only 14% had an unfavorable opinion (28% DK/no opinion). The same survey showed Mayor Hunstad with a 32% approve/46% disapprove (22% DK/no opinion). Clearly whoever emerges from the Republican primary will face an uphill battle to unseat Judge McKinney in November.

Some final thoughts on the Road Diet issue in Danville

The Advocate-Messenger reported on Wednesday that the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet announced that plans to consider the “Road Diet” option in Danville have been cancelled. The article reports that no one is exactly sure who was involved or how that decision was reached, but reports that it likely came from some high-level official in the Kentucky state government somewhere. 

Here are a few final thoughts I’ve had recently on the recent Road Diet discussion over the past week or two:

First, numerous letters to the editor have made claims to the “will of the majority” on this issue (see here and here, e.g.). Road Diet opponents claimed that they had a “majority” on their side and proponents made similar arguments. Well, they can’t both be true. So who is right? Were the majority of Danville residents in support of or opposed to the Road Diet proposal? From my perspective, the answer is “we don’t know.” No one did a scientific probability survey nor did anyone happen to talk to all 16,000+ Danville residents on the matter. I think there’s good evidence that a majority of downtown business owners were opposed to the Road Diet and that a majority of city and EDP officials were in support. We can also confidently say that a majority of letters to the editor were opposed. But these three groups are not representative of the entire population and are numerically less than 0.5% of all city residents. So any claims to know what a “majority of Danville” thought on the matter cannot be supported with existing evidence and we should be more cautious in our claims about what the “majority” thinks on this issue.

Second, I am very impressed with level of activity with which the downtown business owners organized on this issue. They saw an issue that they were concerned about, they showed up to meetings, they organized petitions, they wrote letters, etc. Although we have no publicly-available evidence one way or another, it’s possible that their efforts either directly or indirectly affected the decision of the state to cancel the Road Diet plan. (It’s also possible that the two were completely unrelated, I don’t have enough information to know either way.) Either way, kudos to them for taking action and participating in democratic self-governance. The lesson for Road Diet proponents is that they should have been quicker to organize and just as vocal if they wanted to have the same level of influence.

Third, (and this is completely a guess – this could be wrong), I imagine that those running for Danville City Commission this fall are relieved not to have to take a public stand one way or another on this issue now that it’s out of their hands. It would be interesting to ask them during this fall’s campaign how they would have voted on this issue if it had been permitted to continue. Mayor Hunstad is the only one (to my knowledge) to have expressed a public stand on the issue.

Fourth, Pam Wright reported in her article: “Numerous other sources claim to believe an individual or small group of individuals had an influence at the state level to stop the decision.” I would urge Ms. Wright, or anyone else for that matter, to try to find out exactly who this “individual or small group of individuals” was and publicize the information. Transparency, openness, and honesty are hallmarks of good government, and from the available evidence it looks like this decision was made in the dark by a few people without public input… exactly the kind of decision-making process that the downtown business owners were originally protesting. Ultimately, this decision was not made in an open, transparent, or “democratic” fashion.

Response to recent criticisms of Road Diet analysis

Danville resident Wilma Brown authored a letter to the editor appearing in today’s Advocate Messenger. Her letter questions the applicability of the Road Diet analysis performed by my students earlier this month (see here and here) to the situation here in Danville. Her primary concern deals with how closely the businesses surveyed in both Georgetown and Elizabethtown match the situation that local businesses have on Danville’s Main Street. Specifically, she argues that in neither community (in contrast to Danville) the businesses surveyed are located directly on the streets where the lane reductions (“Road Diet”) have recently occurred.

In my view, Ms. Brown raises a fair point which deserves consideration. I do not disagree with her argument that neither Georgetown nor Elizabethtown are directly comparable to Danville given the points that were raised in her letter the editor. That being said, social scientists and urban planners are rarely presented with a situation where there is a perfect and direct comparison case to study in trying to analyze the potential effects of various policy decisions. City of Danville officials, working together with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, worked for several weeks to try to find a “perfect” comparison city in Kentucky with the same size, economics, traffic patterns, etc. as Danville and ultimately decided to ask the students in my class to survey businesses in both Georgetown and Elizabethtown, those two cities being what they determined to be the closest possible comparison communities to Danville, with the closest possible comparison businesses to survey. As with all public endeavors, we do the very best we can with the evidence and resources available to us.

Ultimately, is the analysis that my students performed perfect? No. But neither is any other report that has been presented or evidence offered so far on the subject. That is why I recommended at the community meeting last Thursday that my students’ report be considered as one piece of evidence to add to the mix of evidences being collected. I repeat what I said at the meeting: we are more likely to come to more accurate picture of the reality of something by gathering as much data as possible on the topic using as many different approaches as possible and then taking the “average” of the entire picture of evidence. The report that my students contributed to Danville’s Road Diet discussion should be considered as one piece of evidence to contribute to the discussion, but certainly not to end the discussion. While Georgetown and Elizabethtown are certainly not perfect comparison communities, more appropriate comparisons have yet to be brought forth to the public discussion. While there may not be “slam dunk” evidence that Road Diets have no effect on local businesses, neither has there been compelling and systematic evidence presented that Road Diets have detrimental effects either.

Personally, taking the “average of everything” approach, I think the available evidence is persuasive that we can confidently say that lane reductions make communities safer for both pedestrians and automobiles. I also think that the available evidence is ultimately insufficient to be able to say with confidence whether lane reductions have adverse or beneficial effects on local businesses adjacent to lane-reduced thoroughfares. What little evidence there is provides a mixed picture. Further evidence and research is certainly warranted.

For example, doing a quick Google search of “Road Diet economic impact” reveals a number of analyses and reports from communities around the country. These are some of the first things that populated the search results:

I invite community members to take a look at these reports and consider their research designs, findings, and appropriateness of comparability to Danville. I also invite community members to continue their research (beyond a five-minute Google search as I presented above) as to the advantages and disadvantages, both to public safety as well as local businesses, of Road Diet plans in determining whether or not to support such a proposal in Danville. I commend Ms. Brown and other community members for their careful attention to important public issues such as this. As with any important public matter, citizens as well as public officials have the obligation to gather as much evidence as possible and weigh competing trade-offs between public safety and economic vitality (as well as many other considerations) in coming to a final decision. 

Analysis of Road Diets on businesses in Georgetown and Elizabethtown

This semester students in my POL 210 “Introduction to American Politics” course have been working on a policy analysis investigating the effect of the “Road Diets” implemented in Georgetown, KY and Elizabethtown, KY in 2012. This was done as part of a “service-learning” component of the course. Centre College emphasizes engaged and experiential learning and often partners with community members to give students a chance to engage in “real world” learning experiences. As such, the students in my course took responsibility for this project and were almost exclusively responsible for all the data gathering, analysis, and writing of the final report, with some minor supervision from their instructor.

In this case, our report was produced at the request of Danville City Manager Ron Scott who asked for assistance in gathering data about how other Road Diets have affected downtown businesses in two Kentucky cities that implemented Road Diets in 2012: Georgetown and Elizabethtown. It is anticipated that this report will contribute to the ongoing conversation about whether or not the City of Danville should recommend to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet whether or not to implement a Road Diet when Main Street in Danville is repaved in the summer of 2014. (See background on this issue here as well as the local EDP’s website on the issue here.) 

The full report is available for download by clicking HERE.

The Executive Summary is as follows:

This policy analysis reports the results of a study of both Elizabethtown and Georgetown related to the effects of a Road Diet system implemented in each community in 2012. The study took into account various economic indicators such as unemployment rates and tax revenues. This study also gathered information from business owners/managers whose businesses are located adjacent to streets where a Road Diet was put into place in 2012. This input was gathered via a telephone survey covering the owners’ perceptions on the effects of the Road Diet in the community on his or her own business.

The key findings of this study are:

  1. There is little evidence that the Road Diet had a detrimental effect on businesses in terms of their customer volume, revenue, and livelihood.
  2. After the Road Diet was implemented, business owners perceived their customers to have safe access to the business front and reported little difficulties in truck deliveries to their stores and little difficulty in customer parking and access.
  3. The Road Diet did not seem to affect either unemployment rates or tax revenues in either community.
  4. The Road Diet seemed to negatively affect the two communities studied in terms of a perceived increase in traffic on the part of business owners.
  5. Overall, business owners think that the Road Diet had a negative impact on the community as a whole, but for reasons other than its economic consequences. 

Danville Public Issues Survey – January 2014

This January I have had the pleasure of teaching a class on “local politics” for Centre College’s annual three-week “CentreTerm” where students have the opportunity to engage in a number of high-impact experiential learning activities. We have covered a number of topics ranging from neighborhood design to federal grant activities to local city council politics to school board issues. We were also pleased to have several visitors from our local political community, including Danville Mayor Bernie Hunstad, Boyle Judge-Executive Harold McKinney, Danville Independent School Board Chairwoman Jean Crowley and Superintendent Carmen Coleman, and Boyle Economic Development Partnership representatives Jody Lassiter and Paula Fowler.


During the week of January 13th we had the opportunity to attend a number of public meetings, including the Danville City Commission meeting on the 13th, the Boyle County Fiscal Court meeting on the 14th, and the Danville Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on the 15th. We observed in several of these meetings that there were many community members who attended and provided their thoughts and input on a number of the issues currently facing our local community, including the proposed Fairness Ordinance, the proposed “Road Diet,” and how land should be used along the new 2168 connector road in Danville. In our class discussions we noted that while it’s great that there are citizens who are turning out to participate in the local political process by attending these meetings, writing letters to the editor in the local newspaper, and advocating for their positions and interests, it’s possible that these individuals do not represent the overall views of the community at large. Instead, they tend to be the more passionate and intense supporters or opponents of the various issues under discussion.

Given that reality, our Local Politics class partnered up with Prof. Bill Goodman’s “Politics and Journalism in the Age of Social Media” CentreTerm class and set out to obtain a more accurate picture of the views of Danville residents on these various issues. Specifically, we wanted to know what the residents of the community at large think on these issues (in contrast to those of the engaged minority who attend the public meetings and write letters to the editor). We did this by fielding a door-to-door survey to randomly selected Danville households over the course of a week. Conducting this survey required a significant amount of time and effort on the part of our students, who battled tight schedules as well as snow storms and below-freezing temperatures to go door-to-door and gather responses from members of the community. At Centre College we value engaged and experiential learning, as well as community engagement and service learning. This survey project provided students with an excellent opportunity to gain “real-life” experience with public opinion and local politics. It also gave them the opportunity to directly and immediately contribute to important community conversations about matters of public importance.

In our class we also discussed the role that public opinion ought to play in governmental decision-making. There are strong arguments to be made that in a democratic political system (such as ours) political leaders ought to try to carry out the views of the community on matters of public importance. There are, however, also compelling arguments that in a democratic republic (such as ours) public opinion should not always dictate public policy in every instance. Therefore, what our local leaders ultimately choose to do with this information is up to them. We consider it important, however, for there to be as much information as possible in the environment so that local leaders can be as well-informed as possible on the important decisions that they are responsible to decide on.


The households that were surveyed were selected at random to ensure that everyone in the community would have an equal chance to be included in the survey. Random selection ensures that that the results are scientifically valid and representative of the population. Random selection also ensures that we can be confident that the survey results accurately reflect those of the community at large, within a particular margin of error.

Students fielded surveys beginning on Monday, January 20th and ending on Saturday, January 25th. For this survey, a total of 183 Danville residents over the age of 18 choose to participate. Given that the adult population of Danville is approximately 12,500 (as per the U.S. Census Bureau), a randomly-selected sample size of 183 gives us a margin of error of about 7%. (A sample size of 183 is certainly not ideal. It should be noted that sub-optimal temperatures and unpleasant weather this week prevented us from being able to collect more surveys which would have further decreased the margin of error.) In this case, a margin of error of 7% means that we can be very confident (95% confident, to be exact), that the true proportion of people in the community who have a particular opinion is within 7% up or down from the figure that is reported below, or a 14% margin total. In other words, the survey found that about 80% of Danville residents believe that Danville is “on the right track.” Given our sample size and margin of error, we can be 95% confident that the actual percentage of Danville residents who think that Danville is on the right track is somewhere between 73% and 87%. Ultimately, these results from our small sample size will not be able to give us a very precise measure of public opinion on these various questions. They will, however, allow us to give a confident “ballpark” figure within a 14% interval or so. All results reported here should be interpreted with that in mind.

(It should also be noted that these figures should not be directly compared to the results of the last two exit polls [here and here]. This survey sampled all residents in the Danville community while the exit polls sampled only voters throughout Boyle County. These are two different groups and thus can’t be directly compared in a meaningful fashion.)

To produce the household sample, we obtained a list of every residential address within Danville city limits from the county PVA. We then generated a randomized sub-sample of each address and assigned each of our students to distribute surveys to those addresses and only those addresses (this is to maintain the integrity of the random sample). If no one was at home, students were instructed to return to those same addresses up to three times to obtain a response. Students were further instructed to field surveys during the late afternoons/early evenings as well as some morning to try to maximize the amount of responses from households.

These surveys were completely anonymous and it is not possible to link any particular respondent with his or her answers after the survey is collected. Survey respondents were assured that participating was completely voluntary and that they could simply leave blank any question that they did not want to answer.

We also acknowledge the generous assistance of several students from Bill Goodman’s POL 438 “Politics and Journalism in the Age of Social Media” class who fielded dozens of surveys this last week. We also appreciate the contributions of Stephanie Lauderdale who provided several hours administrative assistance in preparing the survey and instruction packets.

A PDF copy of the complete survey questionnaire is available by clicking here


The exact wording for each question and results of each question are shown below. Important reminder! There is a 7% margin of error associated with all these results unless otherwise indicated. This means that we can be 95% confident that the true proportion of people in the Danville community who have a particular opinion is within 7% up or down from the figure that is reported below.

Generally speaking, do you believe Danville is…?

  • Heading in the right direction: 79.8%
  • Off on the wrong track: 20.2%

Do you approve or disapprove of the way the following political leaders are handling their job?

  • President Barack Obama: 39.8% approve, 60.2% disapprove
  • Senator Mitch McConnell: 34.2% approve, 65.8% disapprove
  • Senator Rand Paul: 50.3% approve, 49.7% disapprove
  • Congressman Brett Guthrie: 50.8% approve, 49.2% disapprove
  • Judge-Exec Harold McKinney: 79% approve, 21% disapprove
  • Danville Mayor Bernie Hunstad: 50.3% approve, 49.7% disapprove
  • Danville City Commission: 68% approve, 32% disapprove

If we limit these responses only to those who report that they “always or nearly always vote,” most of these figures remain substantively unchanged except that Judge McKinney’s approval rating improves to 87.6% and Mayor Hunstad’s declines to 46.9%. (Given the smaller sample size the margin of error rises to about 10%.)

Thinking of the upcoming Kentucky Senate primary race, who do you currently plan to vote for? (JUST WRITE A NAME or “DON’T KNOW”)

  • Mitch McConnell: 8.2%
  • Matt Bevin: 2.7%
  • Alison Grimes: 12.6%
  • Don’t know / blank: 76.4%

Below is a list of some definite and some possible candidates running for Danville Mayor this fall. If the election were held today, which ONE candidate would you vote for?

  • J.H. Atkins: 16.7%
  • Kevin Caudill: 8.7%
  • Bernie Hunstad: 6.2%
  • Mike Perros: 10.6%
  • Paul Smiley: 6.2%
  • Paige Stevens: 14.9%
  • Undecided: 36%

Limiting these responses only to those who say that they “always or nearly always vote” gives us these results (margin of error 10%): J.H. Atkins: 14.9%, Kevin Caudill: 9.6%, Bernie Hunstad: 5.3%, Mike Perros: 9.6%, Paul Smiley: 5.3%, Paige Stevens: 23.4%, undecided 30.9%.

Recently there has been some discussion about possible changes along the new bypass 2168 connector road in Danville. In general, would you prefer that the land around the new connector road be used primarily for…?

  • Agriculture / green space: 66.5%
  • Residential housing: 15%
  • Commercial development: 18.5%

Recently there has been some consideration of a Danville city ordinance that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation when it comes to housing, employment, or other public accommodations. Would you support or oppose such a measure?

  • Strongly support: 51.7%
  • Somewhat support: 23.6%
  • Somewhat oppose: 8.6%
  • Strongly oppose: 16.1%

A reminder that the 7% margin of error means that we can be very confident (95% chance) that the true level of support for the Fairness Ordinance among Danville residents is somewhere between 68.3% and 82.3%.

The only demographic or political variables that consistently predicted opinion on the proposed Fairness Ordinance were ideology, partisanship, church attendance, and religious affiliation. 80.5% of liberals either strongly or somewhat support the proposed Fairness Ordinance while 49.1% of conservatives support. Approximately 89% of Democrats and 90% of Independents support the ordinance while about 60% of Republicans support the ordinance. Those who never attend church sometimes or never are 88.4% in favor of the ordinance while those who attend church once a week or more are only 60.3% in favor. There is also a difference among religious affiliation: 85.7% of Mainline Protestants, 75% of Catholics, and 48.6% of Evangelical Protestants support the Fairness Ordinance. No other demographic or political variables were significant predictors of attitudes on this issue.

How important would the issue described above [the proposed Fairness Ordinance] be to your vote for Mayor / City Commission election this fall?

  • Very important: 48%
  • Somewhat important: 39.7%
  • Somewhat unimportant: 6.7%
  • Very unimportant: 5.6%

Among those who see the proposed Fairness Ordinance as either somewhat or very important to their vote this fall, 77.1% either strongly or somewhat support the ordinance and 22.9% either strongly or somewhat oppose.

Thinking about your day yesterday, did you get your news in any of the following ways? (CHECK ALL THAT APPLY)

  • Newspaper: 41.8%
  • Network news on TV (ABC, CBS, NBC): 59.6%
  • Cable news on TV (Fox, MSNBC, CNN, etc.): 42.1%
  • Radio: 31.5%
  • Traditional news site on computer: 27.1%
  • Facebook, Twitter, or other social media site on computer: 34.6%
  • News/social media app on a mobile device: 23.2%

Do you consider yourself: Liberal: 24.9%, Moderate: 43.5%, Conservative: 31.6%

Do you think of yourself as a (an): Democrat: 34.8%, Independent, lean Democrat: 10.1%, Independent: 10.7%, Independent, lean Republican: 10.7%, Republican: 28.1%, Other: 5.6%.

Additionally, 52% of survey respondents were female, 48% male; 42% report an income over $50K/year while 10% report an income under $20K/year; 12% report never attending church, 43.2% report attending sometimes, and 44.8% report attending once a week or more; 5.6% report being a “Tea Party supporter; 84.3% report white ethnicity with 11.2% reporting African-American ethnicity; 33% report a high school education, 46.4% report college level of education, and 20.7% report a post-graduate level of education. The age of the average survey respondent is 48 with a range of 18 to 90 years of age.

PPP poll shows Grimes and McConnell in a statistical tie.

“A New Poll Suggests Trouble for Mitch McConnell”

Democrats are excited about this new poll that shows Alison Grimes “leading” Mitch McConnell 45%-44%. The margin of error is 2.8%. This means that there’s a 95% chance that Grimes could be leading by as many as 7% or trailing by 5%.

It should also be noted that, according to Nate Silver’s book The Signal and the Noise, those who are “leading” by one point in the polls a year before the election have about a 52% chance of winning a Senate election (pg. 63). And that’s assuming a one point lead in the polling average. This PPP poll is an N of 1.

There’s also the simple fundamentals. Although Kentucky has more registered Democrats, Republicans are heavily favored in Senate elections. And it’s a midterm election in the term of an incumbent Democratic president. Historically, the president’s party almost always loses congressional seats in midterm elections, which bodes poorly for Democratic candidates next year.