When the polls opened on Election Day 2015, most political experts were giving Republican Matt Bevin little chance to win the race for Governor in Kentucky. Recent polls had shown Democrat Jack Conway ahead, and it seemed he had the edge over the Louisville businessman and Tea Party favorite.
But instead of losing by 3-5 points, Bevin won by over 8 – a very comfortable win for someone who was behind in the polls.
In other words, it was another night in which the polls didn’t accurately reflect what happened at the ballot box.
I try to stay away from numbers and look at trends – but even the idea of looking at trends wouldn’t have helped in Kentucky, as recent polls didn’t show any rush to Bevin.
As for Democrats, they laid the blame for their loss in Kentucky not on the polls – but on Donald Trump.
But it wasn’t Trump who dominated the airwaves in the final days of the campaign, but rather a GOP ad that tied President Obama to Democratic candidate Jack Conway.
It won’t surprise many if there are other ads just like that over the next few weeks in Louisiana, where Sen. David Vitter (R) is in a runoff for Governor of the Bayou State.
The future of the Obama health law in Kentucky
Maybe the most dramatic impact related to Matt Bevin’s win in the Bluegrass State is what it might bring for thousands of people who have gained coverage under the Obama health law.
Bevin has made no bones about his opposition to the President’s signature legislative achievement, and has vowed to reverse it as soon as possible.
“We’re one of only a few states that actually has a state-run exchange; we don’t need it,” Bevin said in that video, ready to shift people instead to the healthcare.gov website.
One thing that makes it easier for Bevin to act on the health law is that outgoing Gov. Steve Beshear (D) used executive actions to implement changes related to the Obama health law – not laws approved by the state legislature.
That means Bevin can overturn those moves almost immediately upon taking office.
It may be more difficult for Bevin to roll back the Medicaid expansion backed by Gov. Beshear and Democrats, which has given health coverage to some 400,000 people from Kentucky.
But starting on December 8 when Bevin is the new Governor, there may be some major changes on the way.
And Democrats are clearly worried:
If Democrats thought that adding thousands to the health insurance rolls would then result in voters sticking with them, that just wasn’t the case, as Kentucky voters overwhelmingly switched from voting for a Democrat to a Republican.
Conway won 14 counties in 2015; outgoing Gov. Steve Beshear only lost 28 of the 120 counties in Kentucky in 2011.