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Steve Beshear
Steve Beshear
SurveyUSA for WHAS and Louisville Courier-Journal (7/22-27, likely voters, 4/8-13 in parentheses):
Steve Beshear (D-inc): 52 (51)
David Williams (R): 28 (39)
Gatewood Galbraith (I): 9 (--)
Undecided: 11 (10)
(MoE: ±4.4%)

Conventional wisdom says that a race—especially one with an incumbent in a place that's hostile to the incumbent's party—is supposed to close as it evolves. That doesn't seem to be the case in Kentucky's 2011 gubernatorial race, where Republican insider rumblings seem to be getting increasingly pessimistic. Here's some quantitative evidence today, though, courtesy of SurveyUSA: Beshear is holding steady above 50 percent and GOP challenger David Williams is dwindling instead of gaining.

Plain old likability seems to be the key here, and the Williams likability deficit (which is well-known from his 10 years as state Senate president, and has always been the 800-lb. gorilla in this race) seems to really be holding him back. Williams is at 21/36 favorables (with 20 neutral and 18 unsure), compared with 48/21 for Beshear (with 22 neutral and 9 unsure). Independents seem to have a special lack of affinity for Williams: he's actually in third place among them, behind perennial candidate/libertarian oddball Gatewood Galbraith, with 11 percent of the vote (compared to 34 for Beshear and 32 for Galbraith).

Williams, at this point, doesn't have much choice left beyond trying to make the race less about himself and more about trying to use advertising to tie Beshear to national Democrats. But with Beshear with $2.7 million cash and Williams with $89K, that doesn't seem likely to happen either without massive RGA intervention. Bear in mind, though, that the paying-attention phase of Kentucky's off-year electoral season is just getting started (with its semi-official kickoff, the legendary Fancy Farm picnic, happening this weekend), so, tempting as it may be, any Beshear victory dance would currently be premature.

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