For the second time this month, a Republican gubernatorial candidate President Trump actively stumped for lost a close election to the Democrat opponent.
On November 5th it was an incumbent, Matt Bevin of Kentucky, losing to Andrew Bashear.
And yesterday it was challenger Ed Rispone losing to incumbent John Bel Edwards.
This certainly is a big deal in Kentucky and Louisiana. But how does it translate into national politics?
Probably not very well. While Democrats certainly must be heartened by these victories, their elation should be tempered by the fact that…
-In Kentucky the loss was primarily personal; Matt Bevin had become extremely unpopular and was ripe for being uprooted. In every other statewide race, the Republican won by a landslide.
-In Louisiana, John Bel Edwards was a popular governor, whose positions are decidedly to the right of the national Democrat Party. His opponent was a little-known business owner with no political background who “won” the Republican nomination by spending $12 million of his own money to eke out a second-place finish in the first round of voting with just 27% of the total vote. Because Governor Edwards got 47% of the vote – thus no majority – Louisiana’s election rules forced yesterday’s runoff election.
In the following days you will probably hear Democrats saying this proves Trump’s unpopularity is real and that, even in Republican states he has no coattails. That may or may not be true, but it is certainly a valid argument to make.
Republicans will counter that Trump, popular though he might be, could not overcome Bevin’s unpopularity and Rispone’s anonymity. That also may or may not be true, but it is certainly a valid argument to make.
What, if anything, does this mean to next year’s presidential election – which, I assure you, will not involve either Mr. Bashear or Mr. Edwards? Probably nothing at all.