Kentucky is now the only 0utlier in the South in terms of partisan realignment. Despite having a deep red tint at the federal level the state is very much purple in state races. Democrats control the state house and every statewide, Constitutional office except one. Now, forced to defend an open Governor’s office that could change.
Democrats hoped a damaged GOP nominee, Matt Bevin (the same dude who lost to McConnell last year), would come out of a divisive four-way primary bruised and battered. He won it by a mere 83 votes after a partial recount. According to multiple accounts Bevin has yet to fully make amends with the party’s establishment wing and has support largely from the state’s less powerful libertarian wing (Rand Paul, Thomas Massie).
Well, according to a new poll that has not exactly happened. The first survey out since the GOP primary finds Bevin leading Democratic AG jack Conway by a slim 38%-35% with Independent Drew Curtis taking 6%. With Curtis taken out the race leans 40%-38% in Bevin’s favor.
Such a narrow margin is not unusual for an off-year race. Conway has a 31-34 unfavorable rating while Bevin beats him with a 31-28 spread. Fully 35% of voters have no opinion of Conway and 39% of Bevin. Again, considering how early it is for the race we should not be surprised.
The results stand in stark contrast to the last poll of the general election by the Bluegrass Survey on the eve of the GOP primary. Conway led all GOP contenders, including Bevin, by double-digits. With the primary concluded voters apparently are reevaluating their choices.
The other tidbit from the survey is surprising and very, very worrisome for Democrats. In EVERY, SINGLE, down-ballot Constitutional contest Democratic contenders trail. In the Attorney General’s contest Republican Whitney Westerfield leads Steve Beshear (son of current Governor) 41%-36%. Democratic incumbents for State Auditor and Secretary of State also trail. Mike Harmon leads incumbent Auditor Adam Edelen 39%-33%. Republican Steve Knipper leads Democratic SofS incumbent Alison Lundergan Grimes 47%-42%. The low-level of undecided voters in this race suggests Grimes engendered some hard feelings from voters due to her 2014 Senate run. In the other open seat contests for Treasurer and Agriculture Commissioner the Republican leads each by 9- it’s 41%-32% for Allison Ball over Rick Nelson and 40%-31% for Ryan Quarles over Jean-Marie Lawson Spann.
The high numbers of undecided voters in every race but the SofS contest suggest some fluidity. The power of the state Democratic machine in the state should also not be underestimated. It is guaranteed that Andy Beshear will drastically outspend his opponent as will Allison Grimes. But if Kentucky voters have had enough of Democratic control of the state at every executive level no amount of money will make a difference.
As reported by National Journal, Conway and Democrats are attempting to distance themselves from the national party on guns, gay marriage, abortion and most importantly, coal. It is possible that it is now impossible for Democrats to run away from the administration. If so, Obama’s administration will have destroyed another state Democratic party. He’s become quite adept at it.
Addendum: The survey did test hypothetical 2016 Senate match-ups and found if Paul does not win the Presidency but does run for reelection he does fairly well.