LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) — A new WOWK 13 News/Emerson College poll asked likely Kentucky Republican voters for their stances on multiple issues ahead of the May primary.

The poll asked 22 questions on topics like favored gubernatorial nominees, the most important issue the state is facing, the status of crime in Kentucky, recreational marijuana legalization, safety in schools, current gun laws, and sex reassignment surgery.


In the poll, Attorney General Daniel Cameron leads former United Nations ambassador Kelly Craft 30.1% to 23.9% among likely Republican primary voters. While 14.9% said they would vote for state agriculture commissioner Ryan Quarles, more were undecided (20.7%).

Respondents found Cameron to be the most favorable Republican candidate. Results showed 62.9% had a favorable view of him, 15.6% had an unfavorable view, and 21.5% were unsure or had never heard of him. Meanwhile, Craft had 46.8% favorable votes, 20.4% unfavorable, and 32.6% who were unsure or hadn’t heard of her. Quarles had 39.1% favorable votes, 15% unfavorable votes, and nearly half (45.9%) were unsure or had never heard of him.


The economy was the most important issue for poll respondents at 41.5% of likely Kentucky Republican primary voters. Threats to democracy was the second leading issue at 15.7%, followed by education at 10.7%. 

The poll found 32.6% of likely Kentucky Republican primary voters believed Cameron would be best for the economy, followed by Craft at 29.8% and Quarles at 16.5%.


Poll results showed 75% of Kentuckians believe there is more crime in Kentucky now than in 2022, while 23.2% believe the crime rate had remained relatively unchanged. The remaining 1.8% of respondents said there was less crime. 

“Despite 75% of voters feeling that crime has increased, only 7% find crime to be the most important issue facing Kentucky,” said Spencer Kimball, executive director of Emerson College Polling.


Marijuana legalization has been a heavily debated topic, with a bill allowing the use of medical marijuana recently signed into law by Gov. Andy Beshear.

Of the respondents, the majority (50.2%) do not think it should be legal in the state. Meanwhile, 33.8% said they support recreational marijuana use, and 16.1% were still undecided.

Likely Kentucky Republican primary voters under 50 years old were more likely to support recreational marijuana, with 46.0% of those between 18-49 voting “yes.” The poll found 34.1% of those aged 50-64 think it should be legalized, and 17.9% of those 65 and older supported it.


The topic of how safe children are in schools was among key topics in the spotlight ahead of the May primary.

The poll results showed 66.8% think children in their Kentucky community are very (20.5%) or somewhat (46.3%) safe attending school. Those who thought children are very unsafe came in at 9.8% and somewhat unsafe at 17.6%

Among voters with a high school education or less (27.7%), 61% believe children are safe in schools. The 10.2% of voting Kentuckians with a postgraduate degree or higher were a little more optimistic about how safe children are in schools, with 84% believing schools are a safe place for children. 


Kentucky Republicans are satisfied with the state’s gun laws, according to the poll. 

Poll results showed that 70.6% of Kentuckians think gun laws are “just right.” Meanwhile, 18% found them “too strict,” and 12% said “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.”


Gender affirmation care has been a topic of discussion as Beshear recently vetoed a bill regulating some of the most personal aspects of life for transgender young people.

According to the poll, restricting sex reassignment surgery, also known as gender affirmation surgery, for those under the age of 18 in Kentucky was important to them. Likely Kentucky Republican primary voters said the topic was very important at 66%, while 17.9% said it was very unimportant.

Meanwhile, 9% said they were unsure or had no opinion, and 5.4% thought restricting sex reassignment surgery was somewhat important.


More data from the WOWK 13 News/Emerson poll will be released at 6 a.m. EST Friday, including the results of who Kentucky poll respondents favor for the Republican presidential nominee ahead of the 2024 primary.


Methodology: The WOWK 13 News/Emerson College 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.

All questions asked in this survey with exact wording, along with full results and cross tabulations can be found here.