McGrath and Barr in statistical tie in last pre-election poll

Amy McGrath answers voter questions at a town hall held in the Cowgill Center on Transy's campus. Photo by Tristan Reynolds

Amy McGrath and Andy Barr are in a statistical tie in their race for the Kentucky 6th Congressional District House seat, a new poll from The Upshot-Siena finds. The poll, which was conducted over the past several days, is likely to be the last snapshot we get of the state of the race before voting begins tomorrow morning.

The poll has McGrath and Barr tied at 44% of the vote each. But with 10% of the electorate undecided and with a 4.9% margin of error, those percentages are almost certainly not going to be reflected in the final vote tally.

This poll carries a large degree of uncertainty. The pollsters spoke to only 438 people, so they had to make a large number of statistical adjustments to more closely reflect the expected demographic composition of the voters on Election Day. These adjustments, called “weighting,” mean that the actual electorate could look quite different than the sample polled. This is especially true for the 6th District, which is composed of 19 counties, since most of the calls made were to the Lexington area.

The large number of self-reported undecided voters is another possible source of ‘error’ in the poll. If most of those undecided voters break in the same direction, the result of the election could look very lopsided compared to the results of this poll.

When looking at a poll like this one, it’s best to put it into a wider context. For example, Nate Silver’s has rated the 6th District race as one that Leans Republican. But most other expert agencies, like the Cook Political Report and the Center for Politics, rate the race as a tossup, which puts this Upshot-Siena poll well in line with the conventional wisdom.

In both of the past two Presidential elections, the 6th District has voted for the Republican candidate by double digits, and Barr won his seat by 22% of the vote when he ran for a third term in 2016. However, there are more registered Democratic voters than Republican voters, so the demographic data likewise points to a mix of conflicting factors that could all prove influential tomorrow.

Polls will be open from 6:00 AM until 6:00 PM on November 6.