Now that I’ve had an opportunity to look at some reaction from around the country from yesterday’s results, I’m noticing a couple themes.
First of all, Matt Bevin’s victory in Kentucky confounded the pollsters and political pundits who thought a TEA Party ticket couldn’t win despite the fact Mitt Romney carried the state two years ago. Even Fox News bought into this narrative, although they based their work on an AP story. Needless to say, the liberals in the media were quick to blame national anger for Bevin’s triumph. Obviously the people who thought they had run the TEA Party into the ground didn’t count on the people thinking for themselves and seeing past the leftist narrative.
Also lost in that win was the fact Bevin’s running mate, Jenean Hampton, is a black female near-political novice, and as such became the first black person to win statewide office in Kentucky. Yes, she ran as part of the ticket and not separately but in a close election as this was expected to be having the wrong running mate can be the difference between celebrating and conceding.
(By the way, as of January there will be just two black LGs in the country – Hampton and Maryland’s own Boyd Rutherford. The story fails to point out the obvious – both are Republicans.)
It’s even more interesting that Bevin’s support of Kim Davis didn’t hurt him, either. So you have a guy who ran against Obamacare and backed the faith-based civil disobedience of the Rowan County clerk, who was elected as a Democrat. If you believed the media and most of the GOP elite, Kentucky would be a lost opportunity for the GOP, but it turned out to be another GOP pickup. Obviously Bevin’s message against Obamacare and for school choice scored with Kentucky voters.
Speaking of surprising victories, it was assumed that Houston’s HERO legislation would be approved by voters. Instead it was crushed by 24 points and supporters were quick to blame its demise on opponents dubbing it the “bathroom bill.” The same was true in Maryland, but there wasn’t much interest in bringing it to the ballot, especially from the state Republican Party.
On the other hand, a few years ago the left successfully shifted the narrative on in-state tuition for illegal aliens from that fact to the image of “Dreamers” who were here through no fault of their own. They had over a year and a half to suck the passion out of the fervent opponents because the original bill passed in 2011 but the vote came in 2012.
As races move up the chain from local to state to national, the messaging becomes more important. This is why the revolt after the CNBC debate is so important. The moderators tried to promote their message but Ted Cruz and the others would have no part. Instead, they would prefer to put their own message out without the filter, in much the way Ronald Reagan succeeded in swaying public opinion his way.
Thanks to a trick of the calendar, we still are over a year away from the 2016 election. It appears the battle will be between a message of class envy and free stuff (that really comes at a cost) versus a message that we need to roll back the excesses of government, put it in its proper place, and make it more responsive.