If the Governor’s race in Kentucky is any indicator, the Democrats better brace themselves to lose in the upcoming presidential election.
On Tuesday, voters in the Bluegrass state headed to the polls and later watched in amazement as Republican candidate and Tea Party favorite, Matt Bevin, narrowly beat his Democratic opponent for the Governor’s mansion.
Trailing in the polls since winning the primary in May, the election didn’t even seem close. In a twist of fate on election day, Bevin captured 53% of the vote, taking back the Kentucky’s governorship from Democrats, making it the 13th governorship Democrats lost to Republicans since Obama took office in 2008.
As a political outsider, Bevin’s win in Kentucky on Tuesday should be heeded as a warning to Democrats and lesson for Republicans to not discredit a dark horse candidate. Bevin was an underdog from the onset and a late entry into the race. Bevin polled poorly and was outspent by his opponent, but none of these factors stopped him from showing up and campaigning on a daily basis. At the end of the day, no one expected Bevin to win.
As voters look to the presidential election, which is filled with dynasty candidates, dark horses, and a reality tv celebrity, it’s important to keep in mind it’s still anyone’s election to win or lose.
Bevin’s upset win on Tuesday also shows a key weakness in what used to be the Democrats’ forte – retail politics. Controlling only 11 state legislatures and 18 of the 50 state governorships, the Democrats have a lot of catching up to do if they want to win next November. Based on the 2014 elections and Tuesday night’s win in Kentucky, it’s safe to say the GOP has hit their stride. Now the goal for them will be to keep it going by focusing on the younger and more diverse electorate, the Millennials.
If Republicans want to have an honest shot at winning the White House, they’re going to have to step out of their comfort zones by possibly backing a dark horse candidate and become the party of the younger generation, appealing to swing voters and Independents. For a generation that has been a disruption in the workforce and turned the conventional 9 to 5 on its head, they are now coming together to realize they have the ability to upset one party’s dreams of occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
It is still undetermined if a large part of Millennials will show up next November and vote, but it doesn’t mean they should be discounted from the onset. As Democrats learned in Kentucky, never assume you’ve won the election just because you’re winning in the polls. If Matt Bevin’s underdog candidacy serves as a forecast of things to come in 2016, Republicans have a solid shot at winning even with a reality celebrity as their nominee.