This Tuesday, voters in Kentucky will go to the polls and choose their next Governor. It's been an expensive and crazy race between Attorney General Jack Conway (D. KY) and Tea Party Businessman Matt Bevin (R. KY). It remains to be seen who will win on Tuesday but Bevin sounds pretty confident:
Campaigning in Northern Kentucky, Bevin told groups of 30 to 50 people in Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties that his latest poll shows that he has grabbed a slim point advantage despite most public polls showing Conway with a 5 percentage point lead.
"The momentum has shifted. The gap has been closed," Bevin told his core backers at the Boone County Republican Party headquarters. "We're actually up a point as of yesterday."
Bevin, who declined to release details of his tracking polls, traveled the region with 4th District Congressman Thomas Massie in an effort to rally Republican troops.
Conway, showing similar confidence as he campaigned east of Lexington, told crowds that their vote is a choice between the “mainstream and the extreme” and he, too, predicted a win on Tuesday.
Told of Bevin’s claim that he had taken the lead, Conway said his internal polls show him up by more than five points and then added, “It wouldn’t be the first time (Bevin) didn’t tell the truth.” - Louisville Courier-Journal, 10/31/15
Of course Bevin refuses to provide any details showing him in the lead. Maybe it's because the latest Bluegrass Poll speaks differently:
The poll, conducted by SurveyUSA on behalf of the Herald-Leader and WKYT-TV in Lexington and The Courier-Journal and WHAS-TV in Louisville, showed Conway leading Bevin 45 percent to 40 percent, with independent candidate Drew Curtis pulling 6 percent.
The poll surveyed 798 likely Kentucky voters on their home phones or electronic devices from Oct. 23 to 26 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, which means the race for governor technically remains a statistical toss-up.
"We have seen enough polls favoring Conway, run by different groups using different methods, that it's decreasingly likely the results are a fluke," said Stephen Voss, a political science professor at the University of Kentucky.
"Bevin needs a sudden shift in voter preferences if he hopes to win this contest, and he may be dragging down some of his Republican ticket mates as well," Voss said. - Lexington Herald-Leader, 10/28/15
Another poll that came out on Monday conducted by WKU Social Science Research Center (SSRC) showed the same result:
According to the latest Big Red Poll, Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway leads Republican Matt Bevin 45% - 40% among likely Kentucky voters. 7% indicated support for Independent candidate Drew Curtis, and 8% indicated that they are still undecided.
Among Democrats Conway leads Bevin 85%-5%, and among liberals Conway leads 84%-6%. Republicans, Bevin leads Conway 80%-12%, and among conservatives Bevin leads 65%-23%. Conway leads among independents by a margin of 40%-30% and moderate voters 60%-26%. There is also evidence of a gender gap in Kentucky. Conway leads among female voters (51%-34%), while Bevin leads among male voters (46%-41%).
Voters are largely mixed with regard to how they view the candidates for governor. 35% have a favorable view of Jack Conway, as opposed to 28% who have an unfavorable view. 33% have a favorable view of Matt Bevin, as opposed to 36% who have an unfavorable view. The majority of respondents are either neutral toward (29%) or have no opinion on (57%) Drew Curtis. - WKU Social Science Research Center, 10/26/15
You can add these two polls to the other polls (including Bevin's own internal polling) that confirms that Conway is in the lead:
But there has been one recent poll that showed a toss up between Conway and Bevin:
A new survey conducted by Vox Populi Polling amongst likely Kentucky voters found that the three-way race for Kentucky Governor remains tight and will likely come down to voter turnout.
Matt Bevin: 44%
Jack Conway: 44%
Drew Curtis: 6%
(moe: +- 3.9%)
While the survey shows this is an exceptionally close race, Republican candidate Matt Bevin narrowly edges Democrat candidate Jack Conway 46-43 percent among self-reported Kentucky voters who say they will definitely head to the polls on Tuesday. Both candidates have an equal 79 percent share of their respective parties, but Bevin has a ten point advantage with Kentucky independents (38-28). Independent Drew Curtis is taking votes away from both candidates, but he is only slightly hurting Bevin’s numbers, with 43 percent of Curtis voters admitting they would vote for Bevin in a two-way race in comparison. - Vox Populi Polling, 10/30/15
Just some info from Vox on their polling:
The sample size for the survey is 618 active voters in the US taken from a listed sample of registered voters who voted in the 2012 or 2014 general election or registered since the 2014 general election. The margin of error is +- 3.9%. All interviews were conducted October 26-27, 2015 by Vox Populi Polling. The total percentages for responses may not equal 100% due to rounding.
While Kentucky is a read state, it's possible for Bevin to still win but Kentucky is a strange red state where Democrats still control everything on a state level. So it remains to be sen. But as we all know, it all comes down to who shows up at the polls and voter turnout might be more in favor of Tea Blue because of Bevin's ridiculous campaign:
There are a lot of reasons why Republicans haven't managed to take control of the state yet, said Al Cross, who runs the Institute for Rural Journalism at the University of Kentucky.
"It has the smallest African-American population of any former slave state. Only about 7.5 percent," he said, which means civil rights issues didn't divide conservative Democrats in Kentucky the way they did throughout the rest of the South.
But other social issues have been splintering Kentucky's Democrats lately.
"I believe a Kentucky Democrat is one who has strong conservative fiscal values, but tends to be moderate when it comes to social values and tolerant to a great degree with the exception of a couple of hot button issues," said Herb McKee, a Democratic activist and farmer in Henderson County — another rural county in Kentucky that's also majority Democrat.
Those exceptions, McKee said, are issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage. They're also issues that the national Democratic Party has embraced.
"I believe the Republicans have done a great job of driving that wedge into the heads of the Democrats around those two issues," he said.
Those wedge issues have been hurting Kentucky Democrats. Fifteen years ago, Democrats made up two-thirds of the state's registered voters. Now, they're only slightly more than half.
Both Democratic and Republican activists argue, though, a lot of this hinges on turnout. This governor's race has been pretty sleepy.
Back in Owen County, Republican activist Lawhon said his big fear is that "if we have a lackluster election, if people are registered Democrat they will tend somewhat to vote for a Democrat as a default." - NPR, 10/29/15
As always, it comes down to turnout. This race is important because we've witnessed the Affordable Care Act being a huge success in the Kentucky, especially after Governor Steve Beshear (D. KY) was able to get Medicaid Expansion become a reality. Health care has become the big issue in this race:
Republican candidate Matt Bevin has said he would attempt to rollback the state’s Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act and replace Kentucky’s health insurance exchange with the federal marketplace. He has said he would target low-income individuals’ health by creating policies that grow the economy, jobs and incomes.
Democratic candidate Jack Conway would keep Kynect and Medicaid expansion. He said it’s important to ensure that Kentuckians stay insured.
Independent candidate Drew Curtis opposes repealing Kynect, the state’s health care exchange, at this time, according to his campaign website. Curtis has said he would rely on experts to complete an audit of Kynect’s functionality to see what can be improved before ordering changes. He also supports a statewide smoking ban.
The Kentucky Health Issues Poll released this week found that health was topped as a priority for Kentuckians only by economy (91 percent), K-12 public education (90 percent) and jobs (89 percent).
But 88 percent of Democrats said that reducing the cost of health care was extremely or very important, compared to 78 percent of Republicans. And 91 percent of Democrats said improving the health of Kentucky residents was extremely or very important, compared to 71 percent of Republican.
The poll was released by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and Interact for Health, formerly the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati.
KHIP was conducted between Sept. 17 and Oct. 7. Researchers from the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati interviewed 1,608 adults throughout Kentucky by telephone. - WFPL News 89.3 FM, 10/28/15
And turnout will be key for either candidate in Northern Kentucky:
Bevin has pinned hopes on a high Northern Kentucky turnout, telling the Enquirer in a visit Oct. 23 that he wants a 40 percent voter turnout in Northern Kentucky. Local clerks have predicted between 20-30 percent turnout. He won Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties in the Republican primary with 48 to 57 percent of the vote despite battling three other Republican candidates in the race.
Northern Kentucky played a large role in giving Bevin the GOP nomination, said Boone County Clerk Kenny Brown, a Republican. He won with a 5,300-vote margin in Northern Kentucky over the next closest competitor, Agricultural Commissioner James Comer, who even had a local running mate - State Sen. Chris McDaniel of Taylor Mill. Northern Kentucky's margin contributed to Bevin's 83-vote victory statewide.
Brown thinks Northern Kentucky will play a similar role in the general election for Bevin.
“I think he won the governor’s race in May by a nose because the turnout was higher in Boone County for him, not great turnout but higher than normal,” Brown said. “His headquarters here in Boone has been open for 18 months. He’s had people on the ground for 18 months from the time the Senate race ended.”
Donors flocking to Conway
There are signs even in Northern Kentucky that all is not well for Bevin.
Some Northern Kentucky business leaders who normally support Republicans have thrown their support to Conway. This includes developer Bill Butler, who told the Enquirer he felt like Conway “will work with us and help us.” He gave $1,000 to Conway.
Donors seem to agree with the polls that Conway stands a better chance at winning, said Stephen Voss, a University of Kentucky political science professor. Conway has outraised Bevin $7 million to $1.9 million, according to the latest report from the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance.
“The people who give campaign contributions are not stupid,” Voss said. “They look at the candidates and judge the likelihood of victory. These are strategic donors.” - Cincinnati.com, 10/31/15
Bevin has give Republicans plenty of reasons to be nervous:
Mr. Bevin, who has spent $4.8 million of his own money trying to win a Senate seat, and now the governorship, in Kentucky, burst into the spotlight last year when he waged an unsuccessful attempt to knock off the state’s most powerful Republican, the Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, in a primary. Although Mr. McConnell has since held three fund-raisers for Mr. Bevin, he has been noticeably absent from the campaign trail; his allies are still upset that Mr. Bevin never endorsed him after he won.
Just last month, Mr. Bevin irked the Republican establishment again, when he said he favored Ben Carson as the Republican nominee for president — even though Kentucky’s other Republican senator, Rand Paul, is running. (Mr. Paul later campaigned for Mr. Bevin anyway.)
On the campaign trail, Mr. Bevin has also made some missteps. In vowing to test Medicaid recipients for illegal drug use, for instance, he confused the health insurance program for the poor with Medicare, which covers older Americans. He has also tangled with the Kentucky political press corps, prompting some in both parties to raise questions about his temperament and whether he would cause too big an upheaval in the State Capitol.
“If Matt goes to the statehouse and blows things up in the right way — gets rid of prevailing wage laws, has tort reform — it would be great, and he would become a Republican hero,” said Bill Stone, a McConnell ally and former chairman of the Republican Party of Jefferson County, which includes Louisville.
“But if he goes in there and doesn’t listen to people, including those on the other side, and doesn’t realize that governing is not a macho contest,” Mr. Stone said, Mr. Bevin “could have problems.”
A former Army captain and father of nine (including four children adopted from Ethiopia) who grew wealthy founding and investing in various companies, Mr. Bevin has an up-from-the-bootstraps philosophy and disdain for what he calls “the welfare state.” It is a view that stems, he says, from growing up poor in rural New Hampshire, the son of a wood mill worker and a homemaker who raised six children in an old farmhouse with no central heat.
“I was raised by parents who taught us you do an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay,” he told voters at a historic community hall here in Stanford, a town of about 3,600 people about an hour south of Lexington. “Never take something you didn’t earn.”
In a poor state like Kentucky, where many residents depend on government assistance, a Bevin governorship could mean big changes. Health care has been a particularly contentious issue; about 420,000 people — nearly 10 percent of the population — joined the Medicaid rolls after Gov. Steven L. Beshear, a Democrat, expanded the program under President Obama’s new health care law.
Mr. Bevin at first pledged to reverse the expansion, but now he says he would simply stop enrolling people. Mr. Conway and fellow Democrats, who cast the race as “a choice between the mainstream and the extreme,” warn that Mr. Bevin would throw people off Medicaid. - New York Times, 10/30/15
And Conway has been hitting Bevin on both his stance on the issues and his personality:
Democrat Jack Conway is promising to maintain access to health insurance and improve job training if he's elected Kentucky's next governor on Tuesday.
During a campaign stop Saturday in Mount Sterling, Conway also questioned his Republican opponent's temperament for the job as Kentucky's chief executive.
Conway said that some of Republican Matt Bevin's behavior during the campaign signals he would have difficulty working with others in shaping state policy. - AP, 10/31/15
Here's a prime example of what Conway's talking about:
The Kentucky Democratic Party said that Republican gubernatorial nominee Matt Bevin stopped by party headquarters Friday afternoon to complain to a receptionist about a marquee sign on Interstate 64 in Frankfort that said, “You still can’t trust Matt Bevin.”
Party spokesman David Bergstein said that Bevin came into the building’s lobby and began telling the receptionist about civility and then became agitated when speaking about the sign.
“You’re not going to believe this,” said Bergstein. “Matt Bevin just came to our headquarters and yelled at our receptionist,” he said. - Louisville Courier-Journal, 9/25/15
We can win this race and keep control of the state legislature in the Democrats' hands. Click here to donate and get involved with Conway's campaign and the Kentucky Democratic Party to help get out the vote on Tuesday: