Cameron ahead in latest Kentucky GOP gubernatorial primary poll

Published 2:30 pm Tuesday, April 18, 2023

By Steve Bittenbender

The Center Square

With 32 days before Kentucky Republicans head to the polls, three gubernatorial candidates have risen among the field of 12. That’s according to a poll released recently by Emerson College and Fox 56 Lexington.

State Attorney General Daniel Cameron leads the pack, earning 30.1% support in a poll of 900 very likely GOP voters. Former U.S. United Nations Ambassador Kelly Craft is second with 23.9%, and state Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles polled at 14.9%.

No other candidate got double-digit percentage support, and 20.7% of those surveyed Monday and Tuesday remain undecided ahead of the May 16 primary election.

The highest vote-getter in the primary will earn the party’s nomination regardless of what percentage of the vote they receive. They are almost assuredly to face Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear, who does have two opponents in that party’s primary that will be on the same day.

Emerson College Polling Executive Director Spencer Kimball said each of the top three Republican candidates has distinct voting blocs that support them.

“Cameron has similar 30% support across all age groups,” Kimball added. “Craft performs strongest among older voters, garnering 33% of voters over 65, compared to 17% support of voters under 50. Quarles’ base of support is with voters under 50 at 21% support, compared to 9% of voters over 65.”

Despite being third and having less than half of the support of Cameron, Quarles posted a statement on Twitter after the poll was released, saying his campaign is “in a great position to win” the primary.

“Without a single dime spent on media, our strong grassroots support, 120 county approach, and 235+ endorsements show our own conservative brand is working,” he tweeted.

Pollsters found Kentucky Republican voters are most concerned about the economy. That issue ranked as the most important to 41.5% of those surveyed, with 15.7% citing threats to democracy and 10.7% most worried about education.

The survey also asked GOP voters their thoughts on next year’s presidential election, and Kentucky Republicans are soundly behind former President Trump.

Trump garnered 61.5% support from those polled, more than two-and-a-half times the support of Florida Gov. Ron Desantis, who came in at 22.6%.

The former president’s legal troubles are not an issue to Kentucky voters and, in fact, seem to be helping him, as 45.8% said Trump’s indictment in New York made them more likely to vote for him. Nearly half, 48.1%, said it made no difference.

That support for Trump may bode well for Cameron, as more than a third, 35.7%, said they’d be more inclined to vote for a candidate Trump endorsed. The former president came out for Cameron last June.

The survey results have a 3.2% margin of error.