Democrats flip Virginia’s legislature; Kentucky governor’s race too close to call

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Opinion polls showed Bevin may be the least popular governor in the country, after he waged high-profile fights with labour unions and teachers.

Governor Matt Bevin's campaign formally requested an official recanvass of the 2019 Kentucky governor's race.

Mr Trump attempted to limit the political damage by pointing to the other five races in Kentucky that Republicans won on Tuesday.

Republicans were hoping an off-year election with no statewide candidates on the ballot would help defuse the anti-Trump energy that powered previous cycles.

But in Kentucky Trump might as well have been the person on the ballot. For the race, the state's political action group, Planned Parenthood Action Kentucky UCC, launched its first "direct voter contact program", an initiative that combined door-knocking, digital ads and direct mail - all highlighting Bevin's anti-abortion politics. "I'm sorry, I think again, and I'm only saying what they call him in Kentucky, I think you got to put "Moscow Mitch" now on the list of endangered candidates". Even he seemed to get the stakes for himself. "You can't let that happen to me!", said Trump to the audience. "The bottom line is I want the process to be followed, it will be followed and, in the end, we will have the governor that was chosen by the people of Kentucky and that's the way the process should work".

Despite a scandal in Richmond last spring that nearly forced out the Democratic governor, Virginia Democrats won control on Tuesday of both chambers of the state legislature, marking the first time since 1993 that the party will control the governorship and the legislative branch.

Trump's 2020 campaign manager tried to find a positive frame for the results in a state Trump won by 30 percentage points in 2016.

Robert Erikson of Columbia University looked at close gubernatorial elections over 120 years, finding that presidents performed 2% to 3% worse in the states where their party had recently won the governor's office.

And as for McConnell's re-election chances, while definitely in question, he is not as inept a politician as Bevin.

Republicans sought to cast the apparent loss of the governor's seat in Kentucky - Republican Matt Bevin trailed Democrat Andy Beshear on Wednesday by 5,100 votes with 100% of returns tallied - as an outlier, the result of an deeply unpopular incumbent who ran a bad race.

"Clearly this is not a repudiation of Republicans in Kentucky", Fleischer continued. Assuming he loses, it will be by roughly one or two points, so it appears that Trump did indeed rally the vote for him and deliver a better than anticipated turnout.

One thing that may not get talked about enough is that since Trump has been president, turnout has been very high in almost all elections.

In Kentucky and elsewhere, state races have become more nationalized over time - with candidates campaigning on national issues and tying themselves and their opponents to national politicians.

At the Democrats' election party at an event center in the predominantly African-American Louisville neighbourhood of Smoketown, the mood turned from nervous to jovial as returns showed Beshear taking the lead.

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