Nothing titillates the chattering class like post-election analysis. No other event allows us to combine policy analysis, social science and soothsaying into neat digestible soundbites for public consumption.
At the risk of adding to the meaningless cacophony, I ask your indulgence as I offer my homespun analysis about last Tuesday’s election.
Mississippi stayed true to form
Had Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood defeated Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves in the Mississippi governor’s race, we could be certain it would have been even money in Las Vegas that Satan was wearing a parka. Normalcy in Mississippi was clearly the Re-publican Party’s best news of the evening.
Virginia is blue
With the Democrats taking control of the state legislature, the Old Dominion is no longer in the purple column; it is firmly blue. Once a reliable Republican stronghold, Democrats control Congress, the governor’s mansion and the state legislature. Maybe not a California or New York shade of blue, but blue nevertheless.
It is overly simplistic to offer that the Kentucky election extends to Trump
As Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear, at the time of this writing, appears to have won a slim victory over the Republican incumbent Gov. Matt Bevin, the rush to of-fer that this is bad news for the president in 2020 is a bit premature. It’s not good news for the president that an incumbent governor that he threw his weight behind lost, in a traditional red state that he won in 2016 by 30 points, but that alone does not suggest trouble for the president.
Republicans in Kentucky won five of the six constitutional offices and none of those were as close as Bevin’s defeat. Bevin was a flawed, abrasive candidate who rubbed enough Kentuckians the wrong way.
Where Republicans should be concerned is how the race turned on Medicare. By Bevin’s estimations, the work rules he instituted would have removed roughly 100,000 from Ken-tucky’s Medicaid rolls — a point Democrats are sure to exploit in 2020.
The rats feel the structure is collapsing
In the 16th century, it was believed rats possessed the ability to know when a structure was on the verge of collapse, and would flee before it occurred. A similar sensation may be overcoming Republicans in the Senate who are up for election in 2020.
Political firewalls are only as strong as the self-interest of those standing at the front of the citadel. Though Republicans won five of six constitutional races, losing the Kentucky governor’s race creates an optic problem for the president. If the president’s coattails are not strong enough to carry an incumbent governor across the finish line in a state that he won by 30 points, how long will senators up for reelection remain loyal him?
What does the 2019 election say about Democrats in 2020?
Any of the top four Democratic presidential nominees can garner 240 electoral votes, but so could a blind orangutan with stage 3 cancer and Alzheimer’s disease if it were the par-ty’s standard bearer. But it takes 270 electoral votes to become president. What is the message that can reclaim the firewall in the Midwest?
At this point, it is too soon to place impeachment in that category. After his 2004 reelection, President George W. Bush’s poll numbers didn’t permanently head south until gas prices began to rise. It is usually the visceral pocket book issues that turn elections.
As I have offered in a previous column, superior public policy ideas, accompanied by white papers ad nauseam, will not be the barometer that will decide the 2020 election. The victor in the 2020 election will be the one who best answers the following question: What type of nation do we want to be going forward?
Beshear won the Kentucky gubernatorial race because he connected with voters on an economic issue that was not abstract in Washington D.C., debated profusely by a collection of talking heads, but something real that impacts their daily lives.
What was the collective lesson from Tuesday’s election in Kentucky, Mississippi or Virginia?
Democrats clearly have a consistent momentum that has carried them since 2017. The president has the more loyal supporters, but he has done little to expand his base. Accord-ing to a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, 46% have already decided to vote against the president, 34% are certain to vote for the president, and 17% said it depends on the Democratic nominee.
This is a bad indicator for any incumbent president one year before the election. But the good news for the president is that it is still one year before the election.
Since it is unlikely the world will remain stagnant, the ultimate lesson from Tuesday was that Kentucky, Mississippi and Virginia held elections.