From the midweek edition of the Morning Jolt:
This is one of the joys of politics — the voters get the final say, and sometimes they surprise you.
Matt Bevin became the first governor from Louisville in a century and Lt. Gov.–elect Jenean Hampton became the first African-American to win statewide office in Kentucky on Tuesday as Bevin led a near–Republican rout of state constitutional offices.
Democrat Jack Conway failed to roll up the large margin in Jefferson County he needed and couldn’t minimize losses elsewhere as Matt Bevin grabbed large margins throughout the rest of the state. Republicans followed suit in the races for treasurer, agriculture commissioner and auditor and won as well.
With 100 percent of the vote counted, Bevin led Conway with 53 percent of the vote compared to the Democrat’s 44 percent — a near landslide.
Take a look at these polls; Every one of them going back to September had Conway ahead except one by a Republican firm, and that one showed a tie.
Isn’t it long past time for a national conversation on polls? Or a “beer summit”? And if the polls are so wildly off in assessing who’s actually ahead . . . why are we relying on them to determine who gets into which primary debate?
Elsewhere, Mississippi governor Phil Bryant won reelection easily, as expected.
Bryant and fellow Republicans — Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, Auditor Stacey Pickering, Treasurer Lynn Fitch and Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith — all easily won another term. Attorney General Jim Hood, the only Democrat in a top statewide elective office, also won re-election to a fourth term in the only reasonably close contest, holding off a challenge from Republican Mike Hurst.
Meanwhile, in my home state of Virginia:
Republicans held onto the Virginia Senate in fiercely contested elections Tuesday, leaving Gov. Terry McAuliffe without legislative leverage or political momentum as he works to deliver Virginia for his friend and ally Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2016.
The outcome was a blunt rebuke to McAuliffe (D), who had barnstormed the state with 24 events over the past four days and who portrayed the elections as a make-or-break moment for his progressive agenda.
All 140 seats in the General Assembly were on the ballot. But all eyes were on a handful of Senate seats that would decide whether Republicans held their 21–19 majority in Richmond’s upper chamber. Because the GOP dominates the House, flipping the Senate was the term-limited governor’s only hope for building a legislative legacy.
And down in Houston, 61 percent of voters rejected a proposed law for “gender identity protection”:
The hotly contested election has spurred national attention, drawing comment from the White House and the state’s top officials. Largely conservative opponents of the law allege that it would allow men dressed as women, including sexual predators, to enter women’s restrooms. Supporters of the law, including Mayor Annise Parker, argue that it extends an important local recourse for a range of protected classes to respond to discrimination.
Over in Ohio:
In a major blow to marijuana legalization nationwide, Ohio voters Tuesday rejected a sweeping initiative that would have ended pot prohibition in the Buckeye State.
Unofficial election results found that the proposed constitutional amendment, known as Issue 3, was defeated 65.1% to 34.8%.
Voters did write into the Ohio Constitution a provision known has Issue 2 that prohibits the establishment of a “monopoly, oligopoly or cartel” in the state’s founding document. The ballot issue, which the state legislature wrote expressly to defeat the marijuana language, passed 52.6% to 47.4%.
At the Ohio Chamber of Commerce in Columbus, opponents of legalization rejoiced in their double victory, achieved even though they were outspent by a whopping 20-to-1 ratio.
Meanwhile in Pennsylvania, some bad news for Republicans . . .
Democrats on Tuesday won all three open seats on Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court, a stunning result in a historic race that could dramatically reshape the powerful but scandal-plagued institution for years to come.
. . . and a bit of good news:
Iraq veteran Guy Reschenthaler defeated women’s advocate Heather Arnet for the state Senate’s open 37th District seat after a high-spending race that was as much about political labels as local issues.
The victory gives the GOP a 31–19 majority in the Senate. Because this was a special election, Mr. Reschenthaler will be sworn in not in January but as soon as election results are certified, perhaps by mid November. He will serve the final year of Mr. Smith’s term.