Weak GOP Hold
The PVI for the state is R+13. In relation to non-presidential races here, that is a slightly misleading number. Kentucky has a Democratic Governor and Secretary of State. This seat is currently held by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. He has held this seat since 1985. Prior to that, the seat was held by Democratic Senator Walter Dee Huddleston from 1973-1985. The seat currently held by Senator Rand Paul was held from 1974-1999 by Senator Wendell Ford. Including the current Governor of Kentucky, the office has been held by Democrats for seven of the last nine Governors since 1971. So the state is red, but has a history of being Democratically friendly in non-presidential races.
Much of the reason that this seat is in play has to do with the unpopularity of congress, congressional republicans and McConnell himself. Even if this was an open seat, this race would have the potential to be reasonably close. This race will feature Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and current Kentucky Secretary of Sate Alison Lundergan Grimes. Polling at this point gives McConnell a slight edge.
45%-46% McConnell (CEA/Hickman Analytics (D))
43%-44% McConnell (NY Times/Kaiser)
42%-43% McConnell (Wenzel Strategies (R))
46%-42% Grimes (Courier-Journal/SurveyUSA)
Above are the polls for this race since the beginning of February. The recent three are about as consistent as any polling could ever get. All three of those give McConnell a 1% edge over Grimes. This is stiull well within striking distance though for Grimes as these polls do leave a majority between 4%-7% away from McConnell's current numbers. Being anything mid 40's and under for an incumbent is extremely vulnerable when the opponent is at least at 40%.
If Democrats are having a good night come election day, this seat could very well turn blue. However, at this point I am classifying this as a weak GOP hold bassed upon PVI, incumbency and current polling. This is one of
a handful of races I will be watching extremely closely in the coming months.