Tags: Kentucky | Jack Conway | Matt Bevin | governors race | democrats | gubernatorial election

Analyst: Ky. Governor's Race May be Bellwether for Dems in 2016

By    |   Wednesday, 29 Jul 2015 03:35 PM

While Democrats may be hoping to improve their numbers in Congress in the next election, political analyst Nathan Gonzales says that the Kentucky governor's race may be a bellwether election for 2016.

Since losing the Senate in 2014, as well as even more seats in the House, the Democrats have been looking to 2016 with hope in light of the fact that they typically have better voter turnout during presidential election cycles, Gonzales explained in a blogpost for Roll Call.

However, he contends that there is at least one race that is expected this fall that "could dampen some of the Democratic enthusiasm next year" — that is the Kentucky race for governor.

Democratic state Attorney General Jack Conway has been expected to win the gubernatorial election in the Bluegrass State against businessman Matt Bevin, but Bevin is starting to show a slight advantage in the polls, Gonzales writes.

The Democrats have held the governor's seat every term in the last 43 years except for one, and term limited Gov. Steven Beshear is still considered popular in the state.

However, in a Public Policy Polling survey from June, Bevin was leading Conway 40 percent to 38 percent.

Bevin became unpopular among the establishment in the Republican Party outside of Kentucky after he tried to challenge Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2014, but Gonzales says that it doesn't mean he's unpopular in Kentucky.

One factor that may be working against Conway is President Barack Obama's poor favorability rating in Kentucky. In the same PPC poll, Obama had an approval rating of 33 percent with 60 percent saying they don't approve of the job he is doing.

"Democrats are hoping voters continue to bifurcate state races from federal races, but this race will test that tradition," Gonzales writes.

Because Bevin is improving in the polls compared to Conway, Gonzales says that The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report has changed its prediction about the election from "Tossup/Tilts Democratic to pure Tossup."

If Conway does lose, Gonzales said that Democrats will likely blame the attorney general for being a weak candidate, but he says "the races in Kentucky this year will have an impact on next year."

"Democrats shouldn't dismiss the weight of Obama's job approval rating on their nominee, but next year should also feature the higher turnout the party was expecting," he added.

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While Democrats may be hoping to improve their numbers in Congress in the next election, political analyst Nathan Gonzales says that the Kentucky governor's race may be a bellwether election for 2016.
Kentucky, Jack Conway, Matt Bevin, governors race, democrats, gubernatorial election
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2015-35-29
Wednesday, 29 Jul 2015 03:35 PM
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