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Is Kentucky the Next Ohio?

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The state of Ohio has been an elusive target for Democrats during the last two presidential elections. The Democratic Party is optimistic about its chances there in 2008, and the 2006 elections points to clear dissatisfaction among the Buckeye State's electorate with the Republican Party. In last November's election:

* Democrats won back the Governor's mansion (in the midst of a GOP scandal)
* Democrats picked up one U.S. Senate seat
* Democrats picked up one U.S. House seat
* Democrats picked up one State Senate seat
* Democrats picked up six State House seats

Like Ohio, Democrats also experienced a mild renaissance in 2006 in the neighboring state of Kentucky:

* Democrats picked up 1 U.S. House seat
* Democrats picked up 4 State House seats
* Democrats picked up 2 State Senate seats

Next week, Kentuckians will go to the ballot to elect their next governor, and Republican incumbent Ernie Fletcher is down by nearly 25 points in the latest polling to Democrat Steve Beshear (SurveyUSA, October 27-29).

Equally alarming to Republicans is that the job approval ratings of both GOP Senators, Mitch McConnell and Jim Bunning, are below 50 percent. McConnell is on the ballot in 2008 and was not originally thought to be vulnerable to an upset, given his powerful position in the Senate, but the Senator currently has a 49 percent job approval rating (SurveyUSA, October 2007). Bunning won his Senate races in 1998 and 2004 by a combined 2 points, and only has a 46 percent approval rating.

Bill Clinton won both Ohio and Kentucky in 1992 and 1996—the former by a combined 8 points and the latter by a combined 4 points. In matchup polls in Ohio, Hillary Clinton currently leads Rudy Giuliani (2 points), Fred Thompson (6 points), Mitt Romney (9 points), and Mike Huckabee (16 points), and is tied with John McCain (SurveyUSA, October 2007).

In Kentucky, Hillary Clinton is leading Giuliani (2 points), Romney (9 points), and Huckabee (10 points), but trails McCain (4 points) and Thompson (2 points) (SurveyUSA, October 2007).

Everything being equal, Republicans still hold an advantage in both of these states, but if Ohio leans Democratic in 2008 as it did in 2006, do not be surprised if Kentucky does the same.

Previous post: The Huckabee Surge Is Real
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Remains of the Data

No Free Passes: States With 2 Major Party Candidates in Every US House Race

Indiana has now placed candidates from both major parties on the ballot in a nation-best 189 consecutive U.S. House races, with New Hampshire, Minnesota, Idaho, and Montana also north of 100 in a row.

Political Crumbs

Gubernatorial Highs and Lows

Two sitting governors currently hold the record for the highest gubernatorial vote ever received in their respective states by a non-incumbent: Republican Matt Mead of Wyoming (65.7 percent in 2010) and outgoing GOPer Dave Heineman of Nebraska (73.4 percent in 2006). Republican Gary Herbert of Utah had not previously won a gubernatorial contest when he notched a state record 64.1 percent for his first victory in 2010, but was an incumbent at the time after ascending to the position in 2009 after the early departure of Jon Huntsman. Meanwhile, two sitting governors hold the record in their states for the lowest mark ever recorded by a winning gubernatorial candidate (incumbent or otherwise): independent-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (36.1 percent in 2010) and Democrat Terry McAuliffe of Virginia (47.8 percent in 2013).


An Idaho Six Pack

Two-term Idaho Republican Governor Butch Otter only polled at 39 percent in a recent PPP survey of the state's 2014 race - just four points ahead of Democratic businessman A.J. Balukoff. Otter's low numbers reflect his own struggles as a candidate (witness his weak primary win against State Senator Russ Fulcher) combined with the opportunity for disgruntled Idahoans to cast their votes for one of four third party and independent candidates, who collectively received the support of 12 percent of likely voters: Libertarian John Bujak, the Constitution Party's Steve Pankey, and independents Jill Humble and Pro-Life (aka Marvin Richardson). The six candidate options in a gubernatorial race sets an all-time record in the Gem State across the 46 elections conducted since statehood. The previous high water mark of five candidates was reached in seven previous cycles: 1902, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1914, 1966, and 2010.


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