For Kentucky Public Radio
Published THU OCTOBER 28, 2014
By RAE HODGE
With only a week left until the election, U.S. Senate candidates Alison Lundergan Grimes and Mitch McConnell have each launched run-up strategies to mobilize voters.
Facing traditionally low voter turn-out rates in mid-term elections, the Grimes campaign has rolled out their Get Out the Vote initiative featuring a voter information website and a new ad for the Democratic candidate. Grimes’ final days on the campaign trail will focus on activating the campaign’s extensive grassroots network of over 4,000 volunteers and 50 Get Out the Vote offices around the state.
The Grimes campaign has been shadowed by the specter of low voter turn-out among Democrats, though the candidate’s popularity has risen significantly among college-age voters as the election has progressed. But a recent Gallup Poll suggests voter engagement is lower for the 2014 mid-term elections than in 2010.
The Grimes campaign said it has garnered 112,000 individual small-dollar “grassroots” donors in the run-up to Election Day, and that campaign volunteers will be taking a boots-on-the-ground approach to muster the required voter turn-out via door-knocking and phone calls.
Grimes also has high-profile support coming to the state. She campaigns Tuesday evening in Louisville with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who is considered a rising star among progressives. Grimes also campaigns this week with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a likely candidate for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.
The McConnell campaign, meanwhile, has enlisted Grammy-winning artist Lee Greenwood, who has joined McConnell and U.S. Reps. Brett Guthrie, Hal Rogers and Ed Whitfield for the “Kentucky Leads America” bus tour. The tour was scheduled to make a whopping 14 stops in two days across the state.
McConnell campaign stops will focus on crucial western Kentucky districts, including visits to Murray, Bowling Green, Russellville, Glasgow and Campbellsville.
The campaign’s Oct. 27 stops included eastern locations such as Hazard and London. Although the eastern Kentucky 5th District has been a former union-Democrat stronghold, McConnell has maintained a steady advantage over Grimes in the region as the Democratic base has begun shrinking. McConnell’s lead also comes despite Grimes’ endorsement from the United Mine Workers of America. Republicans have carried the region in the 2008, 2010, and 2012 elections.
The two candidates has also exchanged advertising barbs in the last few days as the McConnell campaign has sought to reach out to female voters in this ad. The Grimes campaign almost immediately shot back at McConnell for his use of out-of-state actors, reminiscent of the McConnell campaign’s attack on Grimes’ use of a Ukrainian actor in a campaign ad that never actually ran.
A recent report from the Center for Public Integrity says that the McConnell campaign has run a total of 41,336 ads in Kentucky during the campaign.
Voters will choose between Grimes, McConnell and Libertarian candidate David Patterson on Nov. 4.
Most recent polls show a a close race between the major party candidates, with a slight edge to McConnell.