Election Day Results: GOP Increases Number of Governorships. Incumbents Win Big.
venture capitalist Matt Bevin came up a big winner in Tuesday’s Kentucky
Governor’s race defeating Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway 53 to 44
percent. In winning, Mr. Bevin is only
the second Republican to become Governor since World War II ended.
About a week before the election both Survey USA and Western Kentucky
University found Conway to be holding a 45-40 percent lead, almost the exact
opposite of the final result. Vox Populi, which released the poll closest
to the election, correctly found Bevin gaining momentum going into Election
Day. Their last ballot test projected the candidates tied at 44 percent,
but the sample seemed to possess a slight Republican skew. The actual
results, however, proved the Vox methodology, as it related to turnout model
In other Kentucky statewide races, Democratic state Auditor Adam Edelen, who
was being tested as a possible opponent to Sen. Rand Paul (R), fell to
Republican Mike Harmon. Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D),
who challenged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) in the 2014 election,
barely held onto her position with a 51-49 percent win. Democrat Andy
Beshear, son of outgoing Gov. Steve Beshear (D), captured the open Attorney
General’s position with a very slim 2,194-vote margin from more than 950,000
Kentucky notwithstanding, the night belonged to incumbents. In the
Virginia legislature, both the full House and Senate stood for election and not
one incumbent from either party was defeated. The chamber division
remained constant, with Republicans holding their majorities in both houses: a
tight 21-19 margin in the state Senate, and a whopping 66-34 in the House of
The evening’s other gubernatorial election, in Mississippi, saw Gov. Phil
Bryant (R) record a 66-32 percent re-election win in a race that was never in
doubt from the campaign’s early stages. All of the statewide incumbents
were re-elected, including Attorney General Jim Hood who is the only remaining
Democratic statewide elected official in the Deep South.
Here, too, incumbents ruled the day in the legislative races. In the
52-member Mississippi state Senate, just one incumbent, a Republican was
defeated. Four state Representatives, three of whom are Democrats, lost
their positions in the 122-member state House.
Good news came for Democrats in the country’s Mid-Atlantic region. In New
Jersey, where the 40 legislative districts send two Assemblymen apiece to the
state capitol in Trenton, four Republican incumbents lost their seats.
The results expanded the Democratic majority to 52-28. The state Senate
was not up for election in the 2015 political cycle.
Turning to neighboring Pennsylvania, Democrats successfully swept the three
state Supreme Court positions and wrestled the panel majority away from
Republicans. These results will likely come into play during the
post-census redistricting cycle when lawsuits are certain to find their way to
the state’s highest court.
With the Kentucky and Mississippi GOP wins, the new nationwide gubernatorial
total features 32 Republicans, 17 Democrats, and 1 Independent, the largest
Republican advantage in generations.
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