50-State Strategy: Kentucky
Power-Building Strategy: Flip KY-6 blue.
Kentucky is another state where the Democratic brand is heading in the wrong direction. Despite Mitch McConnell’s unpopularity (even within the state), Amy McGrath’s $100 million couldn’t unseat him in 2020. Democrats got shellacked at the state legislative level, losing 15 seats.
A bright spot in recent election history was Democrat Andy Beshear’s 2019 gubernatorial win. In a de-nationalized political environment, Governor Beshear was able to run a campaign focused on Kentucky and the unpopular former governor Matt Bevin, building on his work as Attorney General and the Beshear name.
Our strategic recommendation for Kentucky is to invest in a long-term strategy to flip Kentucky’s 6th congressional district blue. Unlocking how Democrats can grow among suburban voters in Kentucky will be key to building back a Democratic base in the state.
To be clear, KY-6 is likely not going to be a top target for 2022, a year when we expect to see a swing away from Democrats. Cook PVI ranks it as an R+9, and it has consistently voted for the GOP nominee for president since at least 2000.
But making the investments now to build trust with voters will pay dividends over time. Governor Beshear’s campaign shows how a locally-rooted Democrat can still win in Kentucky. Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin, who as the US House member from Michigan’s 8th Congressional District is the only Democrat to represent a Romney-Trump-Trump district, has similarly shown how a smart campaign rooted in the district can overcome national headwinds. If we can unlock KY-6, that gives us a pathway to rebuilding in a once-bluer state in a new political era.
This is exactly the kind of work that EveryDistrict is building in Virginia this year to help Democrats reach out to even more voters to build a commanding majority in the State House and take lessons learned to other states like Kentucky in 2022 and beyond.
How you can advance a 50-state strategy in Kentucky:
- Democrats need to invest in continued messaging, polling, and organizing targeted in districts where we have seen continued growth and where we need to build back. Beginning in Virginia in 2021 and expanding to other battleground states in 2022, EveryDistrict’s Win Number program will do exactly that by deploying the latest in election science to identify how we can win more conservative college-educated voters, rebuild with non-college white voters, and develop a message that resonates with rural voters.