Beshear’s margin of victory is reasonably impressive (though it is smaller than the share of the vote taken by the Libertarian candidate John Hicks), but looks absolutely stunning set alongside the double-digit defeats of nearly every other Democrat running for statewide office in Kentucky on Tuesday. It was more than enough. Mitch McConnell, whom Bevin quixotically challenged in a Senate primary years ago and whose protege Daniel Cameron was elected attorney general by 15 points, probably isn’t quaking in his boots. But he cannot be heartened by the result either.
Until now Trump has largely dominated midterm elections in which he has offered endorsements — including in states in which the polls suggest his candidates of choice did not have good chances, as in last year’s gubernatorial race in Florida, where the Republican Ron DeSantis pulled off an upset against the insurgent populist Democrat Andrew Gillum. It is hard to think that Trump is not wishing he had sat this one out, not only because the value of any endorsement depends upon its ability to deliver actual victories but because he had very little to gain in the first place by sticking his neck out for Bevin, one of the least popular governors in the country and a thorn in the side of his party’s leader in the Senate.