by just 4 points
PPP also pitted McConnell against ex-Rep. Ben Chandler, who narrowly lost reelection to the House last year. The results are similar to Grimes', with McConnell ahead 46-41. However, Chandler said shortly after his defeat that he wouldn't run for Senate next year, though I suppose minds can always change. But just as notably, McConnell only manages a 46-35 lead over Some Dude Ed Marksberry (the only declared candidate so far), showing that he can't crack 46 percent no matter whom he faces.
(By the way, if you're wondering about Ashley Judd, the actress's favorability numbers took a real hit over the past few months, dropping from 42-36 to 34-41 after continuous GOP attacks and criticism from some local Democrats. However, Chandler also earns negative favorables of 25-34, so I suspect Judd wouldn't have performed too differently had PPP tested her against McConnell. But since she's not going to run, it's all moot.)
Yet despite these very soft numbers, McConnell is still favored for reelection. That 46 mark is not a hard ceiling. Rather, we're still a long way off from election day, and if nothing else changes, there are a bunch of voters out there who will ultimately hold their noses and pull the lever for McConnell. That's just a reality in a red state, where undecideds are simply going to lean to the right. But of course, this is why they play the games. Things can change, and while it won't be easy, a relentless, high-energy campaign that makes the race all about McConnell could keep those undecided voters at home or even convince them to switch their allegiances.
It's a high-risk, high-reward play, though, particularly since McConnell's warchest is very intimidating. He just announced that he raised another $1.8 million in the first quarter of the year, bringing his warchest to a massive $8.6 million. But it's not like this is news, since McConnell was always going to be exceptionally well-funded. The question is whether Grimes wants to take this gamble. Given the head start McConnell has, I'd want to ante up sooner rather than later.