The Washington Post political blog The Fix says Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear’s landslide victory over challenger David Williams could be a good sign for Democrats in 2012.
In a review of the race, the prognosis is that the Democratic incumbent’s re-election provides a blueprint for the party considering President Obama’s unpopularity in the commonwealth. However, even national pundits acknowledge this off-year election was defined more by Williams’s reputation as a thorny character than accomplishments from Beshear’s first term.
From The Fix:
Why it meant something: Gov. Steve Beshear was a Democrat running for a second term in a state that President Obama won just 41 percent in during the 2008 campaign. And yet, Beshear managed to win easily. His blueprint — hammer your Republican opponent early and often and talk about the positive things you have been able to accomplish over your first term — are a blueprint for Democrats up and down the ballot in 2012. And if a Democrat can win in Kentucky, why can’t the likes of Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill or Montana Sen. Jon Tester do the same in states that are less Republican in 2012?
Why it didn’t: The Republican nominee — David L. Williams — was a gruff campaigner (to put it nicely) who made enough mistakes on the campaign trail to all but hand Beshear a cudgel with which to batter him. Williams’ missteps allowed Beshear to turn the race from a referendum on his first four years in office to a choice between himself and a flawed Republican. The average GOP candidate won’t run as hapless a campaign as Williams and won’t give their Democratic so many openings through which to attack. Plus, it’s far easier for a governor to distance himself from Obama’s unpopularity than a member of Congress who is voting on the president’s priorities.
Locally, observers are debating whether the blowout gives Beshear a mandate, if this is a rejection of Tea Party politics in the state and whether it hurts Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who saw his party lose five out of six races.