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 Texas, 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.
Dan Patrick responds to defeat of HERO
Finally, 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.
Ben Carson Is Up Ten Points on Hillary Nationally. Ten! TEN!
Now that we’ve mocked the polls for being inaccurate in Kentucky . . . look who’s beating Hillary by ten nationally!
One year before Election Day 2016, Dr. Ben Carson is virtually tied with Donald Trump as strong front-runners for the Republican nomination, and Carson tops former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton 50 – 40 percent in the final face-off, according to a Quinnipiac University National poll released today.
Trump gets 24 percent of Republican votes, with Carson at 23 percent, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida at 14 percent, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas at 13 percent, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at 4 percent, the independent Quinnipiac University Poll finds. No other candidate tops 3 percent, with 9 percent undecided, and 63 percent who might change their mind.
We should not be surprised to see the electorate seriously considering untested new faces for leadership. A group of “Wal-Mart moms” in a focus group was asked to describe the state of the country. They answered, “unrest,” “frightening,” “downhill,” “going to hell,” “awful,” “horrible.”
“All in a day’s work!”
The GOP Demands: Sorting Out the Reasonable from the Ridiculous
A quick rundown of the GOP candidates’ list of demands (to the extent they could agree on any), in reverse order.
Temperature of room at 67 degrees: This sounds like a diva’s request, but makes complete sense. These candidates will be standing under hot television lights for two hours or more, and they don’t want viewers at home to see them sweating.
No raising of hands to answer a question: As the late, missed Fred Thompson said, “No hand shows.” He did this after Des Moines Register editor Carolyn Washburn asked the candidates to raise their hands if they believed that “global climate change is a serious threat and caused by human activity.” You can spot the problem there — you can’t ask a two-part question and ask for one hand gesture to answer it. (Well, maybe you’ll get candidates responding with a different hand gesture.) Candidates hate being forced into binary, yes-or-no answers, and complicated topics and questions deserve fully-articulated answers.
No “lightning round”: See above. This isn’t a game show.
No candidate-to-candidate questions: This one is a little more persnickety, and helps the front-runners. The trailing candidates might prefer to directly challenge the men ahead of them, and attempt to put them on the defensive. “Donald, how can you possibly compare your time in military school to actually wearing the uniform of your country and serving our country’s armed forces?” “Jeb, how can you defend Common Core when you see what the Obama administration’s Department of Education is doing to our schools?”
“What instructions will you provide to the audience for applause?”: Remember the first GOP undercard debate with no audience? That meant laugh lines with no laughter and applause lines with no applause.
“No reaction shots of the audience or moderators”: Okay, now they sound like divas. If a line generates a strong reaction from the audience, why shouldn’t the network be free to televise that reaction? Same with the request . . .
“No using behind shots of the candidates showing their notes”: If it’s happening, then the television network has a right to show it. That’s journalism. The television broadcast is there to show the viewers what is happening, not to make the candidates look good.
Separately, is there some fear that showing notes will make the audience think less of the candidates? Do the campaigns think somebody at home is going to say, “Oh, that guy is writing down notes for his response, I just can’t trust him”?
Do not “show an empty podium after a break (describe how far away the bathrooms are)”: Has this been a problem? Has any candidate nearly not made it back after a bathroom break?
ADDENDA: A good group to keep an eye on in the months to come: the Leadership Project for America, a project of former Heritage Foundation president Ed Feulner, State Policy Network president Tracie Sharp, JM Foundation executive director Carl Helstrom, and our Lindsay Young Craig, president of the National Review Institute.
The group aims give some policy context/substance to the presidential candidates, and brings in top scholars, like Victor Davis Hanson and Veronique de Rugy, to give analysis of the proposals. Think of it as the right-thinking policy wonk’s report card for the candidates; you can peruse their criteria for a candidate here.
Moe Lane of Red State was kind enough to talk with me about Heavy Lifting a short while back. Today my co-author Cam will be speaking with the good folks at Coffee and Markets. By the time you receive this e-mail, I will have discussed the book on WKTF’s Coastal Daybreak program.