Life is messy; be cautious of an orderly narrative
Bevin had taken on the teachers' pension -- without a lot of grace, and often came across as acerbic. He is not well liked by registered voters in Kentucky. A Morning Consult poll from the third quarter of this year reported Bevin's approval rating was 34% and his disapproval rating was 53%, the second-lowest among the nation's governors. When you consider those approval ratings, his election results don't seem so bad.
Beshear ran a moderate campaign that focused on state issues and ignored national politics as much as possible. He posted on Twitter when he had knocked on his millionth door while campaigning in Kentucky.
Bevin talked about national issues in an attempt to draw out the Republican base. The challenge is that to win an election, you have to garner more than one party's votes; you have to appeal to independents or swing a few voters from the other side.
While many will attempt to draw a straight line from the results in the Virginia and Kentucky races to Trump, the truth is messier.
For Virginia, the takeaway is that money matters, especially when it's a 3-to-2 difference. And for Kentucky, the takeaway is that it's not enough to belong to the majority party; the candidate and the campaign are both critical.
With a great economy, Trump's best bet is to hope the Democrats nominate a candidate that won't appeal to voters in a general election despite winning a Democratic primary. But lightning doesn't often strike twice (Hillary Clinton was a terrible general election candidate -- appearing aloof, entitled and irritated to have to campaign).
Instead, Republicans looking to set themselves up for 2020 should focus on candidate selection and have state candidates knock on every door they can, raise money and focus on the issues most important in their particular district, county or state. They must focus on earning every vote possible. While Trump will be at the top of the ticket, a team approach is the way to win.
To find out more about Jackie Gingrich Cushman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.Copyright 2019 Creators Syndicate, Inc.