|Not a Sea Change, Yet||
6 November 2019
Cogito Ergo Non Serviam
Americans went to the polls in some jurisdictions for off-year elections yesterday. Most of these were low-key, low-turnout affairs. However, in the states of Kentucky and Virginia, there were some high-stakes, high-turnout elections. The Democrats prevailed in both. That bodes well for what passes in America for the political left, but it is easy to over-do the analysis. The 2020 general election is a long way off, the Democrats have yet to pick a nominee, and the economy may well slip and slide in the next two quarters. In short, a grain of salt is in order when looking at the results.
Starting in Kentucky, the governor's mansion was up for grabs. Incumbent Matt Bevin, a Republican, lost by just over 5,000 votes to state Attorney-General Andy Beshar, whose father had been governor once upon a time. The margin of victory was less than 0.5%. Mr. Bevin had tied himself to Donald Trump and endeavored to make the race a simple fight between the president and his opponents. Mr. Beshar eschewed visits from nationally known Democrats and talked about health-care and jobs. Recalling that Mr. Trump won the state in 2016 by 30%, this is a big swing against the GOP.
That hardly means that Kentucky is a blue state. Indeed, Mr. Bevin had the worst approval ratings of any US governor. In addition, he was the only Republican to lose a statewide race in the state last night. The GOP won the attorney-general's office (victory margin of 15%), secretary of state (by 5%), agriculture commissioner (by almosty 20%), state auditor (by more than 13%) and treasurer (by more than 20%).
Also, there was a Libertarian candidate running for governor, Joe Hicks, who took more than 28,000 votes (2%). The Libertarian Party tends to take votes from the GOP, to the extent it affects either main party. Could Mr. Hicks be the difference between Mr. Bevin winning and losing? Probably not. The Libertarians in other races polled higher than 2%. Still, it cannot be discounted entirely.
In other words, the Democrats won the Kentucky governor's mansion by the skin of their teeth, and the stars aligned just right for that. In 2020, in a presidential election, they cannot count on a repeat.
In Virginia, the Democrats won control of both chambers of the state legislature. As in Kentucky, voter turnout was high for an off-year election. While the votes are still being counted in some constituencies, the Democrats picked up two seats in the state senate and five in the lower house. Those results are more than adequate to take over both.
The Washington Post notes, "The GOP was defending thin majorities of 20 to 19 in the state Senate and 51 to 48 in the House of Delegates, with one vacancy in each chamber. All 140 seats in the legislature were on the ballot, but all the heat was on suburban districts in Northern Virginia, Richmond and Hampton Roads, where voters could swing either way." They swung to the Democrats.
Virginia's result brings the state comfortably into blue country. The governor and both US senators are Democrats as is a majority of its delegation to the US House. As a result, the Democrats will control the redistricting process after the 2020 census. As a result, they will be able to consolidate their hold on the state.
That said, Virginia is not becoming a people's republic of extreme radicalism. Numerous voters interviewed gave the same reason for voting Democratic. The Republicans have abandoned their traditional conservativism. If they were to move back, away from the Trumpism that has infected the party, Virginia would be a toss-up state again. That move won't happen in 2020, but in 2024, there is a fair chance that Virginian Republicans will have learned their lesson.
© Copyright 2019 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.