The first Emerson College Polling/Fox 56 Lexington survey of Kentucky Republican primary voters finds Attorney General Daniel Cameron with a six-point lead over former UN Ambassador Kelly Craft, 30% to 24%. Kentucky Agricultural Commissioner Ryan Quarles follows with 15%. Twenty-one percent of voters are undecided ahead of the May 16 primary.
“There is a gender divide within Republican primary voters,” Spencer Kimball, Executive Director of Emerson College Polling, said. “Among men, 31% support Cameron, 29% Craft, and 11% Quarles. Among women, Cameron’s lead extends to 10-points, 29% to Craft’s 19% and Quarles’ 18%.”
“Cameron has similar 30% support across all age groups.” Kimball added. “Craft performs strongest among older voters, garnering 33% of voters over 65, compared to 17% support of voters under 50. Quarles’ base of support is with voters under 50 at 21% support, compared to 9% of voters over 65.”
Daniel Cameron is most well-known and favored of the top candidates for the Republican nomination. Sixty-three percent (63%) have a favorable view of Cameron, while 16% have an unfavorable view of the Attorney General. Twenty-two percent (22%) are unsure or have never heard of him.
Forty-seven percent (47%) have a favorable view of Craft, while 21% have an unfavorable view of her. A third (33%) are unsure or have never heard of Craft.
Thirty-nine percent (39%) have a favorable view of Quarles, while 15% have an unfavorable view. Forty-six percent (46%) are unsure or have never heard of the Agricultural Commissioner.
A plurality of Republican voters find the economy (42%) to be the most important issue facing Kentucky, followed by threats to democracy (16%), and education (11%).
Republican primary voters are split on which candidate would be best for Kentucky’s economy, with a third (33%) backing Cameron, while 30% think Craft would be best, and 17% think Quarles.
When it comes to curbing drug use, a clear plurality, 43%, think Cameron would be best suited to curb drug use, while 27% agree Craft would be best, and 11% Quarles.
In a hypothetical 2024 Republican Primary, former President Donald Trump holds the majority of support with 62%, followed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis with 23%.
“Trump holds a base among those with a high school degree or less: 86% of whom plan to vote for him in 2024,” Kimball said. “DeSantis makes up ground among voters with a college degree, trailing Trump by ten points, 33% to 43%. Trump leads by a larger 25-point margin among those with a postgraduate degree, 50% to 25%.”
Of voters under 50, Trump leads DeSantis 55% to 27%. The former president’s lead extends over DeSantis among voters over 50, 66% to 20%. Trump maintains even support from both men and women.
A plurality of GOP voters, 48%, say Trump’s indictment makes no difference on their likelihood to support him in the Republican primary in 2024, while 46% say it makes them more likely to support the former president in 2024.
Seventy-one percent (71%) view Kentucky’s gun laws to generally be “just right,” while 18% find them “too strict,” and 12% find them “too lenient.”
“A gender divide exists within the Republican party on gun laws,” Spencer Kimball, Executive Director of Emerson College Polling, noted. “Twenty-seven percent of male voters find gun laws to be ‘too strict,’ compared to 9% of women voters. Conversely, 14% of women find gun laws to be ‘too lenient,’ compared to 10% of men.”
“Attitudes on gun laws also vary by age,” Kimball continued. “Of Republican voters under 65, 20% say gun laws are ‘too strict’, and 10% ‘too lenient.’ On the other hand, 15% of voters over 65 think gun laws are ‘too lenient,’ and 13% think they are ‘too strict.’”
A majority of Republican primary voters (67%) think children in their community are very (21%) or somewhat (46%) safe attending school. Twenty-eight percent (28%) think children are very (10%) or somewhat (18%) unsafe.
Of voters with a high school education or less, 61% think children are safe attending school. This sentiment is higher among those with a postgraduate degree, 84% of whom think children in their community are safe attending school.
Half of Kentucky Republican primary voters (50%) think marijuana should not be legalized for recreational purposes in the state, while 34% think it should be legal for recreational use.
Seventy-five percent of Republican primary voters think there is more crime in the state of Kentucky today than there was a year ago, while 23% think there is the same amount of crime. Just two percent of Republican primary voters think there is less crime. Kimball noted, “Despite 75% of voters feeling that crime has increased, only 7% find crime to be the most important issue facing Kentucky.”
Seventy-one percent (71%) of Kentucky Republican primary voters find restricting gender affirmation surgery for those under 18 in the state to be important, while 20% find it unimportant. Nine percent are unsure or have no opinion on the issue.
The Emerson College Polling/Fox 56 Lexington poll was conducted April 10-11, 2023. The sample consisted of 900 very likely Republican Primary Voters, with a margin of error (MOE) of +/- 3.2 percentage points. The data sets were weighted by gender, age, and education based on 2023 turnout modeling. Turnout modeling is based on US Census parameters, and Kentucky voter registration and voter turnout data (KY SOS).
It is important to remember that subsets based on demographics, such as gender, age, education, and race/ethnicity, carry with them higher credibility intervals, as the sample size is reduced. Survey results should be understood within the poll’s range of scores, and know with a confidence interval of 95% a poll will fall outside the range of scores 1 in 20 times.
Data was collected by contacting cell phones via SMS-to-web, an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system of landlines, and a consumer list of emails.
This survey was conducted by Emerson College Polling, and sponsored by Nexstar Media. All questions asked in this survey with exact wording, along with full results and cross tabulations can be found here.