Poll: Andy Beshear tops 4 key Republican candidates in 2023 Kentucky governor's election

Gov. Andy Beshear has been blamed by some Republicans for issues plaguing the state's Department of Juvenile Justice, though justice cabinet officials pushed back in a separate statement.
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A new poll indicates Gov. Andy Beshear still gets a thumbs-up from most Kentuckians for his work and also leads four notable Republican opponents as he seeks a second term in office, while Attorney General Daniel Cameron has a sizable edge over his competitors in the GOP's upcoming gubernatorial primary.

The well-known firm Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy released a poll of Kentucky voters Thursday that found Beshear's job approval rating remains high, at 61%, while just 29% of respondents disapproved of his performance and 10% weren't sure how they feel. (He previously did well in other polls too.)

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Mason-Dixon's poll indicated Beshear, who's widely expected to easily defeat fellow Democrats Peppy Martin and Geoff Young in Kentucky's May 16 Democratic primary, is well-positioned to win November's general election, too.

The GOP's gubernatorial primary features a dozen candidates. Mason-Dixon examined how Beshear might fare against four of them: Cameron, former United Nations ambassador Kelly Craft, Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles and State Auditor Mike Harmon.

Beshear outpaced them all in this month's poll, which asked Kentuckians who they'd vote for if the fall election were held now.

Cameron did the best but still fell behind, with Beshear leading 49% to 40%. (Of the poll respondents, 11% were undecided).

The other three trailed the Democratic incumbent by double digits, with the poll showing:

  • 52% for Beshear vs. 35% for Quarles, with 13% undecided;

  • 53% for Beshear vs. 33% for Harmon, with 14% undecided;

  • 57% for Beshear vs. 32% for Craft, with 11% undecided.

In each theoretical matchup, Beshear got significant crossover support, with between 19% and 31% of the Republican voters interviewed saying they'd go for him (depending on which opponent he faced). Less than 10% of the Democrats surveyed said they'd vote for any of those four GOP candidates over Beshear.

Mason-Dixon interviewed 625 registered voters throughout Kentucky, 10% of whom weren't affiliated with one of the major parties while the rest of the group was almost evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. The poll's margin for error is no more than 4 percentage points.

Pollsters spoke with 404 likely Republican primary voters, some of whom also were part of that original pool of 625 Kentuckians, about candidates in the GOP primary. (The margin for error there is no more than 5 percentage points.)

When those Republican voters were asked who they'd cast their ballot for if the primary were held right away, the poll found Cameron had a huge lead over the rest of the field, with 39% support compared to 13% for Craft, 8% for Quarles, 5% for Harmon and 2% or less for everyone else. (28% were undecided.)

Cameron also had more name recognition than his fellow conservatives, with only 15% of likely primary voters saying they didn't recognize his name. (Comparably, 38% said they didn't recognize Craft's name, 45% said the same of Quarles and 51% said that about Harmon.)

Reach reporter Morgan Watkins at mwatkins@courierjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter: @morganwatkins26.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Mason-Dixon: Beshear outpolls 4 Republicans in Kentucky governor race