Matt Bevin’s nine-point victory in the race for Kentucky governor shocked pollsters, GOP insiders, and experts at the New York Times and Washington Post.
The Times had reported on Oct. 30 that Democrat Jack Conway “has a slight edge” over his Tea Party Republican rival. On the morning of Election Day, the Times reported again: “Analysts give Mr. Conway, 46, a lawyer who has spent nearly his entire adult life in politics, a slight edge over Mr. Bevin, 48, a charismatic but unpredictable conservative viewed by many in his own party as outside the mainstream.” (The Times added that strong turnout among social conservatives would be Bevin’s only path to victory, if he had any chance at all.)
The Washington Post‘s Chris Cillizza tweeted mid-Tuesday that Bevin “likely won’t win tonight.”
— Chris Cillizza (@TheFix) November 3, 2015
Nate Silver’s fivethirtyeight.com also gave Conway the edge going into Election Day, adding cautiously that his lead was “small enough that Bevin could win.”
Republican sources suggested that the race was a tossup at best, in a state that has rarely elected Republican governors despite its recent preference for the GOP in national politics.
Elsewhere, Republican candidates and conservative causes enjoyed a surge that the rueful Democratic Governors Association attributed to “Trump-mania.” Democrats appeared to do well in judicial elections in Pennsylvania as returns became available.