Amid Recanvass, Bevin Concedes Election Thursday, Nov 14 2019 

More than a week after initial results showed him losing to Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear by more than 5,000 votes, Gov. Matt Bevin has conceded the election.
Bevin’s concession means that Beshear will become the 64th governor of Kentucky on Dec. 10th, Inauguration Day.

Bevin made the announcement during a press conference in the state Capitol in Frankfort while a recanvass of the election was being conducted across the state.

“We’re going to have a change in the governorship based on the vote of the people,” Bevin said. “And what I want is to see the absolute best for Kentucky.”

The final results of the recanvass were announced shortly after Bevin’s announcement. The process yielded a difference of only one vote — a previously uncounted write-in vote for Blackii Effing Whyte of Madison County.

After a bitterly fought election and years of legal battles, Bevin wished good luck to his opponent Beshear.

“I truly wish the attorney general well as the next governor of this state as he assumes these responsibilities, I truly do,” Bevin said. “I love the fact that we’re blessed to live in a country where things do transition in ways that much of the world wishes they had. There’s not going to be people fighting in the streets.”

Bevin said he would not officially contest the results of the election — a process that would have required the Republican-controlled legislature to determine the outcome of the race.

“I’m not going to contest these numbers that have come in. It isn’t fair to throw that on our legislature to try to find something that there just isn’t,” Bevin said.

Bevin had made unsubstantiated claims that there were “irregularities” in the election, but never provided any evidence to back them up.

But during the announcement, Bevin did make additional claims that ballots were improperly counted and that there are not enough “checks and balances” in the election system.

“We’ve got to be able to have integrity. And I would encourage to ensure that the rolls are accurate, that the ways in which we tabulate votes are accurate, that there is recourse to be able to determine what was or not cast,” Bevin said.

Republican Party of Kentucky chairman Mac Brown released a statement after Bevin’s concession, thanking him for his time in office.

“Kentuckians can be proud of all Gov. Matt Bevin accomplished for our state in bringing jobs and opportunity to Kentucky in record-breaking fashion. Thanks to Gov. Matt Bevin’s leadership, Kentucky’s future is brighter than ever before,” Brown said

Bevin was the only Republican on Kentucky’s statewide ballot to lose on Election Day. Republicans swept the downballot, with Daniel Cameron winning the attorney general’s office for the party for the first time since 1948.

Beshear will inherit a legislature that has Republican supermajorities in both the House and Senate.

Kentucky will have divided government for the first time since 2017, when Republicans had control of the legislature and governorship at the same time for the first time in state history.

This post has been updated.

Recanvass Of Kentucky Gubernatorial Election Underway, Few Changes Thursday, Nov 14 2019 

Kentucky’s recanvass of last week’s gubernatorial election is underway and has produced few differences. Meanwhile all eyes are on Gov. Matt Bevin, who has not said he will concede the race if he loses the recanvass.

With more than two-thirds of all counties reporting, there is only one difference — an additional vote for write-in candidate Blackii Effing Whyte in Casey County.

Bevin requested the recanvass after initial results showed him losing to Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear by more than 5,000 votes.

Outgoing Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes invited incoming Republican Secretary of State Michael Adams to oversee the recanvass, which requires local election boards to double-check their vote totals.

Adams said he was “very satisfied” with the process.

“I want to reassure all Kentuckians that this is being done by the book. I especially want to reassure supporters of the governor, and I’m one of them, that this is being done correctly and by the book,” Adams said.

If the recanvass still shows Bevin behind, his only other option to challenge the election results would be to file for an election contest, which allows the legislature to determine the outcome.

Lawmakers from both political parties have encouraged Bevin to not do that, but Bevin has not said how he will proceed.

Meanwhile Bevin continues to promote unfounded claims about “irregularities” in the election. On Wednesday he encouraged his supporters to attend a press conference in Frankfort held by a group that made erroneous claims of voter fraud in last week’s elections.

Meanwhile top vote-getter in the election, Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear, has already begun building his administration.

Recanvass Of Kentucky Gubernatorial Election To Take Place Thursday Wednesday, Nov 13 2019 

On Thursday, all 120 Kentucky counties will double-check vote totals collected during last week’s gubernatorial election and make sure they sent the correct results to state election officials.

The process is called a recanvass and has been requested by Gov. Matt Bevin after initial results showed him losing his race for reelection by about 5,000 votes to Attorney General Andy Beshear.

A recanvass requires local election boards to double-check the totals of all of their voting machines, add up the results again and make sure they match what they sent to the State Board of Elections on Election Day.

Officials will not double check the votes on every ballot, just the totals.

Recanvasses are common in Kentucky elections, but they rarely yield more votes for the candidates and have never changed the outcome of an election.

One of Bevin’s opponents in the 2015 Republican Primary Election — now-Congressman James Comer — requested a recanvass of that contest after he lost to Bevin by 83 votes. The recanvass produced no new votes.

In 2016, Bernie Sanders requested a recanvass of Kentucky’s Democratic presidential primary election after initial returns showed him losing to Hillary Clinton by 1,924 votes. The recanvass produced 13 additional votes for Sanders.

At the time, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes attributed the vote difference to “provisional votes and a discrepancy in absentee ballot totals in two counties.”

State political leaders from both parties have encouraged Bevin to concede the election if the recanvass doesn’t produce different results.

But Bevin has hinted at challenging the election further. During a press conference the day after Election Day, he made unsubstantiated claims that thousands of absentee ballots had been improperly counted and other allegations.

Bevin’s only other option to challenge the election results is to file an official election contest, which would require the Republican-led state legislature to determine the outcome of the election.

Republican Senate President Robert Stivers — who initially floated the idea of an election contest on election night — told the Courier Journal on Friday that Bevin should concede the election if the recanvass doesn’t significantly change vote totals.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell weighed in on Monday morning, saying that barring “some dramatic reversal on recanvass…that we’ll have a different governor in three weeks.”

McConnell Moves On From Bevin: ‘We’ll Have A Different Governor In 3 Weeks’ Monday, Nov 11 2019 

McConnell GhentSenate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says that it appears Gov. Matt Bevin has lost his bid for reelection, even though Bevin still hasn’t conceded the race.

Bevin has requested a recanvass of the final tally that showed Beshear winning by more than 5,000 votes last Tuesday. A recanvass is a minimal double check of each county’s final election results and historically has only produced minor differences in the final count.

But on Monday, McConnell signaled that the race was over.

“I’m sorry Matt came up short, but he had a good four years and I think all indications are — barring some dramatic reversal on recanvass — that we’ll have a different governor in three weeks,” McConnell told reporters after an event at North American Stainless in Ghent.

The unofficial results of last week’s election showed Beshear defeating Bevin by 5,189 votes after a hard-fought race that culminated with President Donald Trump rallying for Bevin on the eve of the election.

Bevin has questioned the results of the election without evidence. During a press conference last week, he made unfounded claims that thousands of absentee ballots had been improperly counted and other allegations.

Bevin’s only other option to challenge the election totals would be to file an election challenge — a process where the Republican-controlled legislature would determine the outcome of the race.

When asked if Bevin should concede following the recanvass, McConnell said he wouldn’t give the governor any advice, but then seemed to urge the governor to move on.

“My first election was almost the exactly the same number of votes that Beshear won by. We had a recanvass, they added them up, it didn’t change and we all moved on,” McConnell said.

State lawmakers from both political parties have encouraged Bevin to concede the election following the recanvass, which will take place on Nov. 14th.

The first day to file an election contest is Nov. 25th, the day the State Board of Elections certifies the final results of the election. Bevin would have a month to formally contest the election.

Meanwhile Beshear has begun the process of taking over the governorship and by putting together a transition team to build a new administration.

Inauguration Day is Dec. 10th.

ANALYSIS: Exit Poll Provides A Closer Look at Bevin’s Loss  Saturday, Nov 9 2019 

A group of political scientists and researchers, including Benjamin Knoll at Centre College, conducted an exit poll of the Kentucky governor’s race. They interviewed nearly 4,000 residents in the state.

What they found was that Matt Bevin won overwhelmingly among evangelical and born-again Christians (62-36). He also won male voters (52-44), those over age 65 (53-47) and those with only a high school education or less (53-43). Beshear was very strong with black voters (86-14), college graduates (60-39), people under 40 (62-34), those who say they never attend church services (71-26) and women (57-42). None of that is too surprising — it generally jives with who belongs to the two parties both in Kentucky and nationally.

Here’s where Bevin probably lost the race. According to the exit poll, 16 percent of self-described Republicans backed Beshear, compared to 81 percent who supported the governor. In other words, about one in six Kentucky Republicans broke with Bevin. In contrast, Beshear overwhelmingly won Democrats (94-6) and had an advantage with independents (58-31.)

In fact, the exit poll suggests Bevin was uniquely unpopular among Republicans. Fifteen percent of people who said they have a favorable view of President Trump backed Beshear. Similarly, 16 percent of people who said that they voted for Republican Daniel Cameron for attorney general also voted for Beshear. Cameron, unlike Bevin, won basically all of Kentucky’s Republican vote (91 percent.)

For people following national politics and the debate over whether the Democrats should nominate a more liberal candidate (Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren) or a more center-left one (Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg), this data and the Beshear-Bevin race overall offers arguments for both sides. For those who favor a more moderate approach, Beshear illustrates the virtues of that style. Beshear did not campaign on very progressive ideas, instead keeping the focus largely on his controversial opponent. And he won, getting a sizable bloc of Republicans behind him in a very red state. You could imagine Buttigieg or Biden taking this approach in a campaign against Trump.

On the other hand, Beshear just barely won and every down-ticket Democrat lost. Voter turnout was fairly high for a Kentucky governor’s election, but the majority (58 percent) of Kentucky’s registered voters did not cast ballots. Beshear, even with his moderate views, was blown out in the most rural areas of the state. And since he campaigned as a moderate, I would not expect Beshear to take aggressively liberal stances on many issues as governor. Add all of that up and I doubt progressives in Kentucky or nationally will take Beshear’s victory as a sign that they should cede to the strategy of the party’s center-left wing.

Finally, the survey had some potentially bad news for Senator Mitch McConnell. Kentuckians are relatively positive about Trump, according to the survey: 41 percent view him very favorably, 13 percent somewhat favorably, 7 percent somewhat unfavorably, 39 percent very unfavorably. McConnell is viewed very favorably by only 21 percent, somewhat favorably by 25 percent, somewhat unfavorably by 13 percent and very unfavorably by 41 percent. So essentially Trump is in the positive (54-46) and McConnell in the negative (46-54), and McConnell lacks the enthusiastic support that the president has.

Perry Bacon Jr. is a national political writer based in Louisville. You can reach him via Twitter or e-mail.

Kentucky Politics Distilled: Beshear Wins, Bevin Won’t Concede Friday, Nov 8 2019 

This week in Kentucky politics, Attorney General Andy Beshear beat Gov. Matt Bevin at the ballot box, but Bevin still hasn’t conceded the election.

Bevin has asked for a second look of the results and has hinted at an official election contest. But even Republicans have started to distance themselves from the governor.

We talk about what could happen next.

Listen to the show:

 

ANALYSIS: Teachers Are Changing American Politics In Kentucky And Elsewhere  Friday, Nov 8 2019 

Teachers are changing American politics.

We can’t quantify exactly how much of a role teachers and their opposition to Matt Bevin played in Andy Beshear’s victory this week. The teachers didn’t directly get Beshear elected on their own. There are about 42,000 public school teachers in Kentucky, so even if every one of them voted for the Democrat, that would only be 6 percent of the nearly 710,00 votes Beshear received.

But if you went to his events, teachers were there and were among his strongest supporters. If you listened to Beshear’s speeches, one of the central themes of his campaign was effectively, “I will not say mean things about teachers like Matt Bevin does.” Teachers were heavily involved in get-out-the-vote efforts for the Democrat. And broadly, the opposition to Bevin from teachers helped make Beshear’s campaign less about electing a Democrat (not a particularly useful message in a red state) and more about defending educators, who are in all of Kentucky’s 120 counties and generally well-respected.

The mobilization of teachers isn’t unique to Kentucky. The last two years have seen teacher strikes across the country, from fairly conservative places (Oklahoma, West Virginia) to liberal enclaves like Chicago and Los Angeles. Many of these teacher strikes are to push for better benefits and higher pay, like people do in other industries.

But I think there are three distinct dynamics of these teacher movements that are worth highlighting:

In red states, they are a form of resistance to the Koch-style ideology of modern Republicans.

Particularly in the Midwest and South, it’s not just that Republicans are gaining power. Many states, particularly in the South, were once dominated by Democrats, then by those same Democrats after they changed parties and became Republicans. Those Democrat-turned-Republicans weren’t necessarily opposed to big government programs. But gradually, statehouses in the South are controlled by Republicans like Bevin who have a political ideology similar to the Koch family that is very influential in conservative politics: resistance to social welfare spending (so Medicaid and pensions for public employees, for example) and an embrace of privatization of more services (like charter schools and school vouchers) and low taxes and overall government spending.

This agenda of shrinking the public sector is not necessarily that popular with rank and file voters, even those who vote for Republican candidates. (For example, Bevin could have fully withdrawn from the Medicaid expansion program under Obamacare. Instead, he opted for more limited reform of the program, adding work requirements, likely to avoid the political backlash that would have come from a full withdrawal.) The teachers in states like Kentucky and West Virginia are giving voice to that opposition to cutting (or not increasing) spending on public programs, particularly education.

I don’t think the impact of teachers in red states is usually going to be at the ballot box, defeating Republican governors or state legislators. They are in red states, after all. (Even Bevin nearly won.) But polls suggest increasing teacher pay is broadly popular, even among Republicans voters. So GOP lawmakers and governors are going to feel pressure to bend to the teachers’ will (Oklahoma and West Virginia increased teacher pay after the strikes.) I expect this dynamic to continue. If you’re Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles or one of the other Republicans likely to position himself to run for governor against Beshear in 2023, it would probably be smart to tout conservative ideas like charter schools but not do things that get you painted as anti-teacher as Bevin was.

“The fact that teachers (and nurses) are everywhere is key,” said Lara Putnam, a historian at the University of Pittsburgh who has extensively studied organizing movements on the left that have sprung up since Trump’s elections.

“Teachers, and even more so nurses, tend to have very politically heterogenous personal networks. Their neighbors, church friends, and co-workers tend to range widely across the vast middle of the U.S. political spectrum.  So when they get political engaged and mobilized to work to, say, vote out a Republican governor, they have folks in their personal networks whose votes that governor had in the past, and needs in the present,” she added.

In Democratic areas, teachers are pushing back against the testing/accountability movement.

The Obama administration was heavily associated with the “school reform” movement, which generally favors regular standardized testing to evaluate schools and teachers, consequences for schools that don’t perform well on those tests, and greater experimentation in education, including charter schools. But some Democratic presidential candidates, particularly Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, are explicitly rejecting his vision.

“As president, I’ll push to prohibit the use of standardized testing as a primary or significant factor in closing a school, firing a teacher, or making any other high-stakes decisions,” Warren said in a recent statement detailing her education policy ideas.

Why are prominent Democrats souring on this approach? Those Democratic politicians may just think the education reform movement’s ideas have failed or are ineffective. What I’m pretty sure of is that teachers oppose the school reform movement’s ideas — and Democratic politicians want to get teachers’ support. Either way, Democrats are moving away from the Obama education agenda — and I think teachers are driving that.

The teacher mobilization may be part of the broader anti-Trump movement.

We don’t have great data on how many teachers went to say, the women’s marches around Trump’s inauguration or gun control protests that have happened after mass shootings over the last two years. That said, I would assume that the broader anti-Trump protest movement has probably inspired teachers to mobilize around issues that particularly affect them.

After all, teachers are disproportionately female and Democratic, like that broader anti-Trump movement. About 77 percent of American teachers (and nearly 78 percent of Kentucky’s teachers) are women. An Education Week national survey of teachers and other school employees in 2017 found that about 41 percent identify themselves as Democrats, 30 percent independents, 27 percent Republicans. According to this survey, educators were much more likely to have backed Hillary Clinton (50 percent) than Donald Trump (29 percent) in 2016.

“Usually, women currently employed as teachers or nurses aren’t the ones at the forefront of new grassroots groups — their work schedules don’t permit it,” said Putnam.

“But retired teachers and other women from ‘helping professions’ — social workers, health care administrators, librarians, nurses, etc — are everywhere prominent among women who’ve stepped forward to lead and power grassroots groups,” she added.

I don’t expect to see teachers striking constantly — or them campaigning as hard against other politicians as they did against Bevin in Kentucky. But will aggressive, organized political mobilizations by teachers continue? I think so — since they seem to be having a lot of success.

Perry Bacon Jr. is a national political writer based in Louisville. You can reach him via Twitter or e-mail.

Kentucky Lawmakers Urge Bevin Not To Pursue Election Contest Thursday, Nov 7 2019 

Frankfort Capitol BuildingA growing number of lawmakers from both political parties are calling on Republican Gov. Matt Bevin to not pursue an official contest of Tuesday’s election totals that showed him losing to Democratic challenger Andy Beshear by more than 5,000 votes.

So far Bevin has requested a recanvass of the totals — a process where county clerks around the state will double check their vote totals on Nov. 14.

But Bevin has made unsubstantiated claims that there were deeper problems with the election, laying the groundwork for an election contest. That would mean the race would be decided by the Republican-led legislature.

Rep. Travis Brenda, a Republican from Cartersville, said that without any evidence, Bevin is setting a bad precedent for future elections.

“Whether someone likes the outcome or not, we have to accept it and go on,” Brenda said. “The governor’s made comments in the past that have not been true. So if there’s proof, provide the evidence and let it be investigated. But we don’t need to be hearing a bunch of comments that have no basis.”

Beshear has declared victory in the race, which unofficial totals show him winning by 5,189 votes. On Wednesday he began the process of taking over the governorship.

Aggrieved candidates for Kentucky governor only have two options to challenge election results — a recanvass or an election contest.

A recanvass is a common procedure that sometimes produces minor changes in vote totals, but has never changed the outcome of an election in Kentucky.

If Bevin were to pursue an election contest, he would only have to request one and outline his allegations in a complaint that would be reviewed by the legislature. The legislature would then form a committee formed of eleven members of the House of Representatives and three members of the Senate — all randomly selected — to review the allegations.

Bevin cannot file for an election contest until the vote is finalized by the State Board of Elections on Nov. 25. At that point, Bevin would have one month to request the election contest.

Inauguration Day is Dec. 10, meaning Bevin could still file the contest after Beshear is sworn into office.

Senate Minority Leader Morgan McGarvey, a Democrat from Louisville, said Bevin would be undermining the Democratic process if he seeks to resolve the election in the legislature.

“Barring significant and documented irregularities, there is no reason to try and overturn the voters, McGarvey said. “Making baseless accusations after losing an election is harmful to the Democratic process.”

The last time an election contest took place in Kentucky was 1899 when Democrat William Goebel challenged the result of a close election with Republican William Taylor.

Goebel was fatally shot while the Democratic-led legislature deliberated over the election contest and was ultimately sworn in on his deathbed.

Republicans hold commanding majorities in both of Kentucky’s legislative chambers — 61 out of 100 seats in the House and 29 out of 38 seats in the Senate.

In a Facebook post, Louisville Republican Rep. Jason Nemes said that Bevin should pursue the recanvass, but drop his challenge if he doesn’t have any concrete evidence of wrongdoing.

“This is not an opportunity for a fishing expedition or a chance to overturn the election result,” Nemes wrote. “Governor-elect Beshear is entitled to the democratic legitimacy that comes with loser’s consent. So let’s go through the process honorably and expeditiously and give it to him.”

Republican Rep. Daniel Elliott of Danville urged Bevin concede after the recanvass if he doesn’t produce proof of irregularities.

“I will not participate or support any effort to invalidate the election results from last night as a member of the Kentucky General Assembly as the people of Kentucky have spoken, and we must honor that result if elections and the democratic process are to have any meaning in Kentucky and America,” Elliott wrote in a Facebook post.

Senate President Robert Stivers, a Republican from Manchester, was the first to bring up the possibility of an election contest due to the closeness of the race on Election Night.

On Thursday, Stivers issued a statement saying it is the governor’s prerogative to request the contest.

“If such a situation arises when the Senate’s involvement is required as prescribed by the Kentucky Constitution, our chamber will fulfill its requirements with the upmost objectivity and impartiality,” Stivers said.

House Speaker David Osborne issued a statement saying that if Bevin requested an election contest, House Republicans would “handle the matter in a legal, ethical, and appropriate manner.”

Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer, a Republican from Georgetown, said it was inappropriate for lawmakers to weigh in on the possibility of an election contest because of their possible role in settling one.

“I’m keeping my powder dry, I think it’s the best thing to do right now. Let the recanvass work and let’s see where we are after the recanvass,” Thayer said.

Beshear Says He’ll Abandon Bevin’s Medicaid Waiver, As New Research Shows More Benefits Of Expansion Thursday, Nov 7 2019 

Governor-elect Andy Beshear is preparing his transition team and outlining his top priorities for his term. One of those is Medicaid; Beshear says he’ll abandon current Governor Matt Bevin’s efforts to change the insurance program for people with low incomes and disabilities.

Bevin has fought for his signature program over the past four years, which would require some Medicaid enrollees pay for coverage and work or volunteer to keep their insurance. Most of those changes are stalled in the courts; Beshear said Wednesday he would abandon those efforts.

“We are going to take the steps to move forward to make sure we are ready to take those steps that we’ve promised within week one, that include rescinding that Medicaid waiver and saving health care for 95,000 Kentuckians,” Beshear said.

He’s previously said the expansion of Medicaid — which was implemented by his father, former Gov. Steve Beshear — improved health outcomes for those enrollees. And there’s an increasing body of evidence to back that up.

Research shows that the expansion of Medicaid has resulted in more Kentuckians getting preventive health screenings and led to people getting treatment for health conditions. And a new study out this week finds that states that expanded Medicaid also have fewer preventable hospitalizations.

The study, published in the journal Health Affairs, found states that expanded Medicaid had lower rates of inpatient hospital days for cases that could have been prevented, and lower hospital costs. Study authors say that the findings aren’t a definitive picture of how Medicaid expansion impacted people going to the hospital, but that the findings suggest significant potential.

“Reductions in preventable hospitalizations associated with Medicaid expansion were found to be largely concentrated in chronic respiratory conditions (COPD and asthma), diabetes-related complications and bacterial pneumonia,” study authors wrote. “Our study findings suggest the potential of Medicaid expansions to reduce the need for costly preventable hospitalizations in vulnerable populations and produce cost savings for the U.S. health care system.”

Other research released earlier in July from the University of Michigan studied the relationship between Medicaid enrollment and deaths. That study found that in states that didn’t expand Medicaid, 15,600 deaths would have been prevented if those states had expanded coverage. Meanwhile, 19,200 lives were saved in the same period in states that expanded Medicaid.

That research showed that the reduction in deaths were driven by a decrease in disease-related deaths, and that those reductions would grow over time. Aviva Aron-Dine, vice president for public policy at the left-leaning Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, said that the newest studies build on existing research showing the expansion of Medicaid coverage improves access to health care.

“But now more than five years in, we’re beginning to see new research illuminating how expansion affects health and financial outcomes,” Aron-Dine said. “There is no way to deny that by refusing to expand, state policymakers are denying life-saving care to thousands of their residents.”

ANALYSIS: Governor’s Race Shows Kentucky’s Large And Growing Urban Rural Divide  Thursday, Nov 7 2019 

In his successful 2007 gubernatorial run, Steve Beshear lost 28 counties, winning the state’s other 92. He also lost only 28 counties in his winning reelection bid in 2011.

His son Andy Beshear, running in a similar Democrat-but-not-that-left style, won just 23 counties on Tuesday, losing the other 97. Andy Beshear’s path to victory included huge margins in Jefferson and Fayette counties, which combined he won by about 36 percentage points (68-32). But the attorney general lost the rest of the 118 counties to Gov. Matt Bevin by a combined 12 percentage points (44-56).

The Father Beshear v. Son Beshear comparison illustrates something important that is happening in Kentucky politics: a growing divide along party and density lines, with people in rural areas increasingly favoring the GOP and urban voters preferring Democrats. This is not a particularly surprising divide, since it’s happening across the country. In 2016, Hillary Clinton won urban areas by 26 points (60-34), while Donald Trump won rural areas by a similar margin (34-61).

Electorally, this growing divide is bad for Democrats and good for Republicans in Kentucky, since the percentage of people who live in rural areas is higher here than in all but seven states. That divide helps explain why Democrats lost the other five constitutional offices and barely defeated the deeply unpopular Bevin.

But in terms of policy and governance, this divide is probably bad for Democrats, Republicans and most importantly, the state’s people. The state’s Republican Party is in many ways split from the cities that drive the state’s economy, Louisville and Lexington. Democrats, even if they really want to help the rural areas of the state, have some incentive to really focus on the two big cities, since they are heavily reliant on Democrats in Louisville and Lexington whenever an election comes up.

For the state’s residents, this urban/rural divide means that Republicans have a big electoral incentive to cast the Democrats as totally obsessed with Louisville and Lexington and demonize those city’s residents. Kentucky is one of the poorest states in the nation. But it has a totally different group of lawmakers working on urban poverty (Democrats) and rural poverty (Republicans) when a more collaborative approach might be more useful.

Perry Bacon Jr. is a national political writer based in Louisville. You can reach him via Twitter or e-mail.

Next Page »