This the way things were meant to be. New Public Policy Polling data shows Rand Paul is pulling away from Democrat Jack Conway. This typical in races that the leader had big margins in early on.
As discussed here, and demonstrated here, these patterns are both predictable and easily recognized. Between Labor Day and Columbus Day, voters are still paying attention, sizing up candidates, gathering information and making up their minds. By Columbus Day, most people have made up their minds, with a few folks still undecided or whose support for one candidate or another isn’t rock solid.
In the weeks between Columbus Day and Election Day, the polls show some tightening, as folks firm up their decisions and undecided voters start making up their minds. But very late in the campaigns, the early leader tends to pull away, reestablishing the leads seen prior to Labor Day. This is what the PPP data show us:
n a September PPP poll Paul led by 7 overall while also holding a 7 point lead with independents. Now that advantage with independents is a whooping 39 points at 66-27. There's been virtually no movement among Democrats or Republicans over that period of time so most of the movement in the race can be attributed to that shift.
There's been no change in Rand Paul's favorability numbers in the wake of the controversial 'Aqua Buddha' ad. He's at a net +6 (49/43), virtually identical to his +5 (45/40) a month ago. Jack Conway has seen his numbers plunge though. Where before voters split evenly in their assessments of him, giving him a favorability of 36/36, they now view him mostly in a negative light at -13 (39/52).
PPP thinks that the Aqua Buddha ad backfired on Conway. That’s probably the case, but Paul’s performance in the debates as plucky, articulate and well-reasoned conservative should also get some credit. The qualities that won over Tea Party supporters are now being shown to a traditionally conservative electorate, and they’re falling just the way one would expect in this election.
This was Rand Paul’s race to lose and so far, he hasn’t stumbled.