U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell and potential Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes are tied in a new poll of Kentucky voters, though state Republicans are calling the results a "sham."
The poll, by Public Policy Polling, stated that McConnell and Grimes were each supported by 45 percent of Kentucky voters. In April, a PPP poll showed Grimes trailing by 4 points. In December, she trailed by 7 points.
The PPP poll was paid for by the Senate Majority PAC, an organization founded with the help of Democratic U.S. Senator Harry Reid, the current majority leader.
Republicans are characterizing the results as "push polling"—a poll that tries to influence answers through the questions asked.
The PPP poll's critics say the questions directly comment about McConnell, his tenure in the Senate or some of his votes, rather than asking more simple questions as scientific polls often do.
A Politico profile of Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell's reelection campaign describes the effort as using a "scorched earth" policy against any potential challengers.
McConnell has already aired $200,000 in TV and radio ads and has approached state Republican lawmakers in the state in an effort to "lock down" support in his party. The U.S. Senate Minority Leader could potentially face a primary challenge from the right, in addition to a potentially well-funded Democratic opponent in the general election.
With actress Ashley Judd announcing this week that she will not challenge McConnell, many political observers will now renew their focus on the possible Senate candidacy of Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.
Actress Ashley Judd announced on Twitter Wednesday that she will not run for U.S. Senate in 2014. She had been rumored to be considering a run against Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell.
In a series of posts, the Kentucky native and current Tennessee resident said "After serious and thorough contemplation, I realize that my responsibilities & energy at this time need to be focused on my family. Regretfully, I am currently unable to consider a campaign for the Senate."
"I have spoken to so many Kentuckians over these last few months who expressed their desire for a fighter for the people & new leader. While that won't be me at this time, I will continue to work... as hard as I can to ensure the needs of Kentucky families are met by returning this Senate seat to whom it rightfully belongs: the people & their needs, dreams, and great potential. Thanks for even considering me as that person & know how much I love our Commonwealth."
It's likely that with Judd's announcement there will be increased attention on Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, a potential Senate challenger many establishment Democrats favored over Judd in the first place.