One of the most closely watched races last night was the Kentucky gubernatorial race in which Republican Matt Bevin, one of the most unpopular governors in the country, was defending his job against Democrat Andy Beshear. Beshear eked out a victory in the very close election, but the drama may not be over yet.
The vote count currently stands at 709,673 for Beshear, 49.2 percent of the vote versus 704,523 for Bevin, 48.8 percent. A difference of only 5,150 votes separates the two men with 100 percent of precincts reporting.
Matt Bevin has so far refused to concede the election, which means that county clerks will review vote totals to make sure that correct numbers were transmitted to the state Board of Elections. If there is a discrepancy, or if a candidate requests it, the votes can be physically recounted. There is no automatic recount provision under Kentucky law and the candidates have until the Tuesday following Election Day to request a recount.
There were many factors involved in the election. Bevin is one of the most unpopular governors in America due to his policies of cutting teacher pensions, pushing people off Medicaid and picking fights with both parties in the legislature. With Republican supermajorities in both houses of the Kentucky legislature and Republican victories in most other statewide races, the Kentucky election cannot be viewed as simply a rejection of the Republican Party and Donald Trump. At a net of 15 points, Kentucky has one of the highest approval ratings for Donald Trump.
The flip side, however, is that even an Election Eve rally by Donald Trump and Sen. Rand Paul could not save the governor. There were two polls of the race in October. An early October poll showed a tie while a late October poll showed Bevin up by five points. The rally by the president did not help Gov. Bevin and may have hurt him.
There will be a long debate as to the national implications of the Kentucky governor race, but the bottom line is that Donald Trump may not be able to save a weak Republican candidate, even in one of the Trumpiest states in the Union. What this means for a weak Republican presidential candidate remains to be seen.