Why is Democrat Amy McGrath competitive with incumbent Republican Congressman Andy Barr in the KY-6th Congressional Race? Here is my non-expert political analysis. Note: I do not live in the 6th. I live in Louisville, which is a different animal from the 6th.
- The next largest city in KY is Lexington, which is in the 6th District. It’s the home to the University of Kentucky, and it is the next “liberal” area in the state. Liberal is a relative term here in KY. Therefore, the 6th District has suburban voters in it.
- Amy McGrath has an attractive personal story to tell as a former Marine pilot. And McGrath does not appear to be “mushy” like many professional politicians. Several of her commercials demonstrate a person who is not afraid to take some stands, such as being a feminist.
- McGrath’s campaign style has struck a chord with Democrats and progressives who have flooded her with campaign cash. I’m one of those who has made several donations to her campaign.
- McGrath has offices up in the more rural counties in this district, and she is spending the time, at least from what I have heard, courting rural voters. In other words, McGrath is not relying solely on Lexington to pull her over the finish line. The rural Democrats are the ones who helped McGrath win the primary over well known Lexington Mayor Jim Gray.
Will it all be enough for her to win? 538 has her chances at 51.6%. This is really impressive given that Cook Political Reports rates the KY-6th as an R+9 district. And Trump won the KY-6th by double digits in 2016.
And to show you the “glass is half full view” of this race, here is what 538 has to say about the KY-1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th Congressional races: <1% chance of Democrats winning any of those races.
Yes, I knew those other districts were foregone conclusions, but to see those numbers is…well….
I remember when we had some other Democrats besides Congressman John Yarmuth in KY. It says something about how far the fortunes of Democrats have fallen in this state. Could Amy McGrath’s campaign be replicatd in other Congressional districts in KY? It appears that you need a strong candidate who is willing to take some stands and can energize online donations to have a chance at winning. And they have to be willing to go out to the rural voters and try to engage them.
Yes, McGrath has a base to work with in Lexington. I know how damn difficult it is to engage rural voters. I have relatives in rural KY who will NEVER give a Democrat a chance. But Democrats in KY have no choice but to try because that is where most of the voters still are. And McGrath is out there hustling for votes in the more rural counties of the KY-6th.
Note: the Lexington area has lower unemployment rates than the more rural areas. In some rural counties, the unemployment rate is nearly double that of Fayette County where Lexington is. And even in rural counties where the unemployment rate doesn’t appear to be that bad, the jobs do not pay worth a damn.