The Washington Times - May 28, 2013, 02:40PM

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is in a dead heat with a potential Democratic challenger for the 2014 Senate race, a new poll shows.

Mr. McConnell and Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes each would get 45 percent of the vote in a hypothetical matchup, say the results of a Public Policy Polling survey released Tuesday.

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A PPP poll taken last month had the minority leader leading Ms. Grimes by 4 percentage points, and a December survey showed him with a 7 point advantage.

The Democratic pollster who administered the survey on behalf of Senate Majority PAC, a Democratic super PAC, showed that 44 percent of potential voters approved of Mr. McConnell’s job performance, while 47 percent disapproved and 9 percent said they’re not sure. His numbers are even worse with independents, while only 41 percent said he is doing a good job, 53 percent gave him poor marks and 6 percent not sure.

But Ms. Grimes poll figures aren’t stellar either, with just 34 percent of potential votes viewing her favorably, while 24 percent hold an unfavorable view of her, the PPP poll says. And a whopping 42 percent said they’re not sure, meaning poll results likely will fluctuate significantly before the November 2014 election if she decides to run.

Ms. Grimes is considered the Democrats’ top prospect to challenge Mr. McConnell, after actress Ashley Judd decided not to mount a bid.

The latest PPP poll did show some good news for Mr. McConnell, as his approval rating is 70 percent among Republicans, who dominate the Kentucky political scene. And he isn’t expected to face any significant challengers in his party’s primary.

Still, the poll suggests the minority leader’s incumbent status may be hurting him with some voters, as 50 percent think Mr. McConnell “is part of the problem in Washington, D.C., and has forgotten about the people of Kentucky,” compared to only 40 percent who disagree with that sentiment.

Fifty percent of voters also said they’re less likely to cast their ballots for him because of his support for cuts to Social Security and Medicare, compared to only 23 percent who consider that a positive. And 48 percent of voters said the Republican’s opposition to increasing the minimum wage makes them less likely to vote for him, while just 27 percent said his stance will make them more likely to support him.