Outspending incumbent Mitch McConnell in the Kentucky Senate race, Democrat Amy McGrath still has a tall order ahead of her. Kentucky still leans heavily towards Republicans and McConnell is as Republican as they come. 

McGrath, 45, made a name for herself as a rising star in 2018 when she campaigned for a U.S. House seat on her 20-year stint with the Marine Corps as a fighter pilot, a tenure that included dozens of combat missions against Taliban and al-Qaeda targets. She lost to Republican Andy Barr in Kentucky’s Sixth District — it includes the college town of Lexington and the state capital of Frankfort — in a surprisingly tight race. Barr had won by landslides in his two previous races but McGrath made it close, 51%-47.8%.

Now, McGrath is trying to unseat McConnell, a Republican who has held the seat since 1985. McConnell is coming off a landslide win in 2014 against another woman running as the Democratic nominee, Alison Grimes. 

But like Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican red-state South Carolina, McConnell is feeling the heat from Democrats who think red states are very much in play due to President Donald Trump's high disapproval ratings. Donors have poured in for McGrath, who appears to have an advantage over Grimes after Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear won in 2019.

The Center for Responsive Politics shows McGrath raised $88 million in the race, against $55 million for McConnell. It's a staggering disparity for an incumbent, particularly one of McConnell's stature.

McGrath is still a longshot. Unlike Graham, who is in a tight race against Democratic candidate Jaime Harrison, Kentucky polls show McConnell with a clear edge.

In a recent Mason-Dixon poll, 51% of the respondents said they favored McConnell, compared to 42% for McGrath.

Anne Cizmar, a government professor at Eastern Kentucky University, told Vox that the race is generating a lot of buzz but that’s about it.

“I would describe the race as generating a lot of media and public interest, but not actually competitive,” she said in a piece published Wednesday.

Riffing on McGrath’s past, McConnell last week suggested otherwise, saying he expected a tough battle in the final days before Election Day.

"It's a 50-50 proposition. We have a lot of exposure,” he said. “This is a huge Republican class. ... There's dogfights all over the country.” 

McConnell, meanwhile, may have given himself a black eye in the race after voting to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, defying precedent with confirmation coming eight days before the election. There are also some worries that McConnell stalled another coronavirus relief bill, an important issue with the economy still struggling.

Yet the possibility for an upset remains slim. Despite some favorable trends for flipping a seat in a possible blue wave, McGrath is still running an uphill race, according to Ryan Aquilina, the executive director of the Ditch Mitch Fund.

 “We know we’ve been the underdogs from the start,” Aquilina told Vox.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell holds the edge against his Democratic challenger in Kentucky. It's unlikely that Congress will be able to pass a new stimulus package for the US economy before the November 3 election, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Photo: AFP / Nicholas Kamm