WASHINGTON, November 6, 2015 — Americans’ apparent desire to replace long-term politicians with successful, straight-talking individuals, often from the business community, who have never held any elected position may be much stronger than originally thought. The election this week of Republican Matt Bevin as governor of Kentucky may be evidence of this. His unexpected electoral triumph could be great news for Donald Trump.
Bevin, a wealthy businessman who once served as a captain in the Army, easily defeated the favored Democrat Jack Conway, who was leading in the polls prior to the election. Bevin won by nearly a 9 percent margin in a state where Democrats have governed for 40 of the last 44 years.
Bevin’s methods and resumé share many similarities to those of Donald Trump.
Current, term-limited Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshaear urged Democrats running for governor to run on the virtues of Obamacare, believing that the law was viewed favorably by a majority of Kentuckians and Americans.
Bevin, on the other hand, vowed to reverse the effects of Obamacare by ending the state exchange and modifying the treacherous Medicaid expansion both Beshaear and the Obama Administration were pushing. On all other issues, Bevin’s Democratic opponent ran on policies advocated by both President Obama and presumed Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton. This election clearly shaped up as a referendum on Obama’s and Clinton’s policies.
Far from ignoring this, Bevin spoke of making a “fresh start” and building a ”future together.” This was far different from the divisive rhetoric pushed by the Democrats, who habitually pit the rich against the poor, blacks against whites and haves against have-nots.
Bevin also pledged he would make Kentucky a right-to-work state and limit the power of unions. He urged tort reform in Kentucky and a reining in of the EPA, largely and correctly perceived in Kentucky and throughout Appalachia as the force behind the destruction of thousands of good-paying jobs in the coal industry.
Bevin also ran hard-hitting ads attacking Obama and the platform of the Democratic Party. But most of all, he campaigned as a no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is candidate.
As Kentucky’s new governor, he will overhaul the state pension system, which is nearly broke. As a businessman he understands the importance of fiscal responsibility, vowing to control state spending, reduce the tax burden on state residents and reduce the role of state government. An adviser to Bevin often noted that Bevin will reject statements like “We don’t do things like that” and “We tried that and it didn’t work.” Or simply, “You can’t do that.”
The issues being faced in Kentucky are very similar to the issues Donald Trump is pushing as a Republican presidential candidate. Like Bevin, he has never held public office and is a self-made, successful businessman. Bevin has said, “Liberals are good at catchphrases, but there’s no substance behind them.” In fact he says that the Kentucky Democratic Party is “intellectually bankrupt.” Doesn’t that sound like Donald Trump?
By reading articles that appear daily in most of the mainstream media, it is easy to conclude that the country fully supports the President Obama/ Hillary Clinton view advocating big government solutions for all the nation’s ills. Those solutions inevitably involve increased government spending, higher taxes (primarily on the highest income earners) and increased government regulation, particularly of key industries. By looking at the polls, one might think that the Democratic position is at or near the majority view.
But when election time comes, the results often differ greatly from the polls. In 2010, most national polls had the Democrats hanging on to control of the House of Representatives. They lost control that year. In 2014, most polls had the Democrats hanging on to control of the Senate and perhaps picking up a few seats in the House. The result was a bloodbath in both chambers. Republicans picked up seven seats previously held by Democrats, giving them control of the Senate, and they added to their majority in the House.
Since we are three months away from the first 2016 presidential primaries and a year away from the actual election for president, polls are used to judge the current position of the electorate. To reach a conclusion about the population, a small but statistically significant sample is taken.
Depending on the size of the sample, the poll reveals a pollster’s estimate of the true political position of the population, within a small margin of error. Usually the popular view expressed in such polls is within the margin of error 95 percent of the time. So, at least 5 percent of the time, the poll is wrong.
Perhaps a better indication of where a sector of the electorate stands can be achieved by looking at the actual results fro a single state. If Kentucky is a better leading indicator of the views of the entire U.S. population, Donald Trump as president may become a reality.