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Kentucky Governor’s Race A Win For Dems — Is The State In Contention For 2020? [Analysis]

Election Day 2019 isn’t generally on the radar of most Americans, but for those trying to decipher bellwethers and predictors for what we’ll see next year, it was a must-watch event.

Photo by Bryan Woolston/Getty Images

One of the most surprising outcomes came in the Bluegrass State. Democrat Andy Beshar defeated incumbent Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican. Beshar’s win was extremely tight, with a margin of victory of just over 5,000 votes across the state, the New York Times reported.

There were wins elsewhere across the country for Democrats, too, in places they don’t ordinarily win. In all-important Pennsylvania, all five seats on the Delaware County Council will be held by Democrats as a result of Tuesday’s election results. As the Philadelphia Inquirer reported, the county has been a Republican stronghold since the days of the Civil War.

In Virginia, Democrats won enough legislative races across the state on Tuesday to take control of both statehouses in the legislature — a feat that will give them complete control of the government.

The question for 2020 prognosticators is: what does it all mean?

With regards to Kentucky, not much should be read into the results. The Republican Bevin was an extremely unpopular candidate, even for an incumbent, and his loss wasn’t too surprising. Kentucky doesn’t jump into the “swing state” category just yet, especially since Trump’s approval ratings are still a net-positive there.

But 2020 is a year away, and a lot could change. Trump’s unpopularity is growing in the state, and while still positive, it has dropped by 19 points since he’s taken office, according to tracking done by Morning Consult. Trump also admitted earlier this week, while campaigning for Bevin, that a loss for him would be embarrassing.

“It’s so important” for Republicans in Kentucky to vote, Trump said on Monday. “You got to get your friends, you got to vote. Because if you lose, it sends a really bad message…You can’t let that happen to me.”

Another factor could drive Democratic voters out to the polls in November next year? Mitch McConnell. The longtime Kentucky senator is up for re-election, and is viewed as extremely unpopular across the state, much like Bevin was. With McConnell on the ballot, Trump’s chances of winning the Bluegrass State dampen, though still minimally.

Don’t expect a lot of investment from Democrats into Kentucky to put its eight Electoral College votes up for grabs. Truthfully, the results in Pennsylvania, however remote they were, are probably a greater concern for Trump’s campaign than is Kentucky.

At the same time, however, Team Trump is probably wondering to itself today: do we need to be at least slightly concerned about retaining a win in Kentucky? Before this year, a statewide victory for Democrats in that state was considered doubtful. Now that it’s a possibility, Trump’s people are probably at the very least looking at whether it’s something to worry themselves over for next fall’s race.



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