A recent cn|2 poll (Oct 25-27) fielded a number of hypothetical match-ups for this season’s Senate election race. Would things be different if Mongiardo or Greyson had won their respective primaries, or if Jim Bunning had decided to run for re-election? The results of these hypothetical match-ups:
- Rand Paul (R) 46%, Dan Mongiardo (D) 43%, +3% R
- Jim Bunning (R) 50%, Jack Conway (D) 40%, +10% R
- Trey Grayson (R) 44%, Jack Conway (D) 42%, +2% R
The same poll showed that under the real match-up, Rand Paul (R) was ahead 47%-39% over Conway (D), a difference of +8% R.
Substantively, this suggests that it didn’t matter much who emerged from the primaries back in the spring. The Republican candidate would likely win, and by a margin of roughly the same magnitude.
This is not overly surprising. In the 2008 congressional elections, 93% of Democrats voted for the Democratic senatorial candidates in their respective states and 81% of Republicans voted for the Republican senatorial candidate. While there are, of course, many factors that affect people’s voting decisions, it’s also the case that partisanship is by far the strongest predictor of a person’s vote.
Thus, it’s unlikely that Dan Mongiardo would have done much better than Jack Conway in this election, or that Trey Grayson would have done much better than Rand Paul, because Democrats usually vote for Democrats and Republicans usually vote for Republicans, even if they’re perceived to be as ideologically extreme as Rand Paul.