University of Louisville political scientist Dewey Clayton said Democrats clearly are trying to nudge Grimes into the race.
"She may not have the Hollywood star power that Ashley Judd has, but the feeling is ... that she very well could get the job done," Clayton said.
Polling, Clayton pointed out, shows McConnell is more vulnerable now than ever before.
"When you talk about conditions being right, I think now would clearly be the time," Clayton said.
Republican strategist Larry Forgy, a Frankfort attorney, said from a distance it appears Democrats are in a shoving match to avoid the race.
"The regulars are trying to throw Alison Grimes under the bus," he said. "There's only one Democrat who would be a decent opponent to McConnell, and that's Beshear. He's the only competitive candidate they've got, and everybody else is a sacrificial goat."
McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton said the unwillingness of Kentucky Democrats, including U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, House Speaker Greg Stumbo and state Auditor Adam Edelen, to challenge McConnell is telling.
"Despite the hollow spin from national Democrats that Kentucky will somehow be competitive, in-state Democrats have been running away from this race in droves," Benton said. "And it's not because they think Mitch is vulnerable. They have passed because they know he won't be beaten."