Why Kentucky went blue

Or sort of blue, anyway…We don’t yet know what the results of the recanvass will be.

Here is what we can say for sure: The GOP should have had Kentucky in the bag. The Bluegrass State is conservative, culturally at least.

But there were other factors at play here.

(I should mention, before I begin, that I live in Cincinnati, just across the Ohio River from Kentucky. I know many people in Kentucky. Northern Kentucky (for those readers in New York or Oregon) is considered part of the Greater Cincinnati area. Kentucky is my home turf.)

Last year Matt Bevin got into a nasty fight with Kentucky teachers over their pension funding. I know several teachers in Northern Kentucky, and I heard their side of it. I’ve also listened to the counterarguments.

Suffice it to say that this is a complex issue that can be cogently argued from more than one side.

Matt Bevin, however, didn’t take a nuanced approach. He alienated a lot of Kentucky residents when he referred to the teachers as “bullies” and “selfish”. Like Trump, Bevin seems to believe that the antidote for political correctness is to simply be as tactless as possible.

Teachers unions can be a bit heavy-handed. And no group of professionals so celebrates themselves like teachers do. One of my personal Facebook friends is a teacher (in Kentucky, as it happens). At least once per week, she posts a meme or an article telling all of us how great teachers are, and how much teachers contribute. My friends who are accountants, factory workers, police officers, and salespeople also contribute to our economy and to society, but they don’t toot their own horns quite so much.

So no, I don’t accept the teacher-as-holy-martyr narrative.

But Bevin was shrill in his messaging, and–like I said–there was a real case to be made that the teachers weren’t being treated fairly.

Medicaid expansion under Obamacare was also an issue. As I said in an earlier post, the GOP is shooting itself in the foot by ignoring the high costs of healthcare for so many Americans. The GOP isn’t going to lose the White House in 2020 over transgender restrooms. But they might lose the White House over healthcare.

Andy Beshear, moreover, isn’t exactly Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Yes, he is more liberal than many Republicans would like, but most “woke” Democrats would turn up their noses at him.

The ideological drama aside, most Americans vote on bread-and-butter issues. Matt Bevin did a poor job of making his case to the people of Kentucky, and this is where it got him.