Scarborough gloats: Trump lost the Kentucky governor's race for Republicans

Is Scarborough drunk here? He sounds a little “extra” this morning.

I think he’s high on schadenfreude.

Last week I wrote that there are tiers of Never Trumpers. There’s my tier, then there’s the tier that insists on finding fault with Trump even when he’s doing something as innocuous as tweeting an obviously jokey photoshop showing him placing a medal around a military dog’s neck. Reactions to the outcome in Kentucky last night are another example. There’s my tier, then there’s the tier that insists on blaming him for Matt Bevin losing despite lots of evidence that he had little to do with it.

I mean, I can see why he’d want to gloat:

But is it fair to gloat? Start with the polling. Scarborough’s right that NBC had Bevin ahead by five points before Trump swooped into Kentucky a few days ago to rally on Bevin’s behalf. But other polling saw the race differently: A survey taken in mid-October had Bevin tied with Democrat Andy Beshear 46/46, an outcome nearly perfectly replicated by last night’s results. Given Bevin’s gruesome approval rating, even that seemed optimistic.

Continue with the fact that Republicans cleaned up in downballot races in Kentucky. Daniel Cameron, a black Republican and a McConnell protege, walloped his Democratic opponent in the Attorney General race by 15 points. If Trump rather than Bevin was the cancer in Kentucky, it’s strange that the cancer didn’t spread beyond Bevin’s own race.

Political nerds also reminded everyone on social media last night that it’s not unusual to see a Republican lose the governor’s race in Kentucky. To the contrary: Although it’s reliably red in presidential and Senate races, Kentucky usually sends a Democrat to the governor’s office. Andy Beshear’s father Steve was governor there for two terms before Bevin; Bevin is only the third Republican governor of the state since World War II and none of those three were reelected. Trump was up against history and Bevin’s own unpopularity in trying to drag him across the finish line.

On top of all that, as David Frum points out, Bevin rolled back parts of ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion in Kentucky, which may have hurt him with the working-class white Trumpy voters who might otherwise have put him over the top. Citing that as evidence that Trump bears no blame for Bevin’s defeat is complicated since of course rolling back O-Care is (or was) also part of Trump’s and the GOP’s national agenda. Ultimately, though, it was Bevin’s policy that determined how Medicaid in Kentucky would proceed. Clearly Trump wasn’t popular enough to rescue him from the consequences of it, but that doesn’t mean his support for Bevin was decisive in his defeat.

The funny thing about Morning Joe trying to blame Trump for Bevin’s loss is that there were other results across the country that much better support the argument that Trump is hurting the party. Why strain to pin Kentucky on him when there’s a wipeout in Virginia that more easily fits that narrative?

The Democratic Party won control of the Virginia General Assembly on Tuesday, giving the party total control of the Old Dominion’s state government for the first time since 1994.

Democratic candidates outpaced Republican incumbents and nominees in the three most populous regions of the state, picking up seats in Hampton Roads, Richmond and the surrounding suburbs, and the fast-growing Washington suburbs…

The early results are nothing short of a major win for Democrats, who now control every lever of power in what was considered a swing state just a few years ago. Democrats now control all three statewide elected offices, both U.S. Senate seats and both chambers of the General Assembly. Democrats also hold seven of Virginia’s 11 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Right, right, Virginia had been trending blue before Trump arrived on the scene. But it’s now deep blue. The best you can say for him is that he’s done nothing to reverse the tide. If you see no significance in the Virginia results, though, then how about Pennsylvania — a true purple state and one that Trump himself won in 2016?

Holmes isn’t a liberal. He’s McConnell’s former chief of staff. And that’s not the first bad result the GOP has had in Pennsylvania over the past 12 months.

More broadly, though, whether in Kentucky or Virginia, the GOP took a beating again in the suburbs, the same problem it had last year when it lost the House. That is a Trump problem, at least in part. And it’s a big one for next fall:

Just outside Philadelphia, Democrats said they took control of the Delaware County’s five-member council for the first time since the Civil War. In nearby Chester County, Democrats beat two Republican incumbents on the board of commissioners to seize the majority for the first time ever.

The same shifts defined state legislative races across Virginia’s suburbs, particularly in places like Henrico County just outside Richmond…

Democrats’ surging strength in the suburbs reflects the anxiety Trump provokes among moderates, particularly women, who have rejected his scorched-earth politics and uncompromising conservative policies on health care, education and gun violence…

In 2015, Bevin won Campbell County south of Cincinnati handily. On Tuesday, Beshear not only carried the county with ease, he nearly doubled the number of Democratic votes there, compared to the Democratic nominee of four years ago. Beshear also found another 74,000 Democratic votes in urban Jefferson County, home of Louisville.

There was a theory/hope floating around before last night’s results came in that impeachment might inspire a righty backlash that would push the GOP over the top in tight races. That didn’t happen, most obviously in Kentucky (a state with a lot of voters in Trump’s strongest demographic). Trump may not have cost Bevin his seat but he lacked the political juice to save it for him, thanks especially to his suburban weakness. Something to chew on ahead of next year.

Exit question: Will any of this matter to Senate Republicans as they weigh whether it’s in their own interest to throw Trump overboard on impeachment? I say nah, but you never know.