Republican Senate nominee and Tea Party favorite Rand Paul is running even with Democratic candidate Jack Conway in Kentucky, according to a new CNN-TIMEOpinion Research poll of registered voters. And two other key Senate races are nearly as close, the new survey found.
In California, incumbent Senator Barbara Boxer, a Democrat, is leading Republican Carly Fiorina, a former Hewlett-Packard CEO, by a margin of 48% to 44%. And former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, a Republican, is struggling to break away from former governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, in the race to replace Arnold Schwarzenegger at the helm of the Golden State. Whitman leads Brown 48% to 46%, well inside the margin of error.
In Florida, Republican Marco Rubio and independent Charlie Crist are neck and neck in the race for Mel Martinez's old Senate seat. Rubio, a former Florida house speaker, leads Crist, a former Republican and the current governor, 36% to 34%, inside the margin of error. Trailing behind them is Democratic Representative Kendrick Meek, with 24% of the vote. Also in the Sunshine State, Democrat Alex Sink, Florida's chief financial officer, is leading billionaire Rick Scott 49% to 42% for the governor's mansion in Tallahassee.
In the Kentucky Senate race, Paul and Conway are dead even with 46% of the vote apiece. Conway is losing to Paul, an ophthalmologist and son of libertarian Ron Paul, in all age groups save one, 50-64, which Conway is winning 51% to 42%. Conway is winning in urban areas like Jefferson County 61% to Paul's 30% and maintains a slight lead with suburban voters, 47% to 44%. Paul is winning in the rural areas, 50% to Conway's 42%. Paul's strength comes from independent voters, a group he's winning by 50% to 39%.
Brown, 72, is winning the senior-citizen vote in California, 50% to 47% (many of these voters may remember his successful first tenure as governor from 1975 to 1983). Whitman, 54, is winning younger voters ages 35 to 49, by a margin of 51% to Brown's 44%. Whitman is also winning among independents, 48% to 43%, and is drawing 10% of Brown's Democratic vote. Brown dominates in the urban areas, 54% to 41%, while Whitman is winning in suburban areas, 52% to 40%, and rural areas, 61% to 37%.
Of the two women fighting for Boxer's Senate seat, Boxer leads Fiorina among women, 48% to 43%. Boxer is winning the younger vote those under 50 prefer her 51% to 39%, while Fiorina has an edge with those over 50, 49% to 46%. Boxer is leading with independent voters by 5 percentage points, 45% to 40%, while Fiorina is winning in the suburbs 48% to 45%.
In Florida, Crist, not surprisingly, is leading independents with 45% of the vote to Rubio's 29% and Meek's 16%. Rubio has the lion's share of the GOP vote, 70% to Crist's 21%. Crist is splitting Meek's Democratic vote: Meek has the support of 54% of Dems to Crist's 36%. Crist is winning women, with 35% of the vote to Rubio's 32% and Meek's 28%. Meek leads in urban areas with 37%, and Rubio leads in rural and suburban areas with 37% and 39%, respectively, whereas Crist polls 34% across all three areas (urban, suburban and rural). Crist is winning with poorer voters those who make less than $50,000 a year with 37% to Meek's 29% and Rubio's 28%. Rubio wins among voters who make more than $50,000, 39% to Crist's 33% and Meek's 22%.
Sink leads with female voters 50% to 39%, with independents by 50% to 37% and with those under 50 by 52% to 38%. Scott, though, has a tiny lead with suburban voters, 45% to Sink's 44%.
All three polls were conducted via telephone by Opinion Research Corp. Sept. 2-7. In California, 866 registered voters were queried; in Florida, 899 registered voters; and in Kentucky, 869 registered voters. All three polls have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5%.