1. How bad is public polling, or is Kentucky unusually hard to poll? Basically every public poll over the past several weeks had Bevin losing – even his campaign could do no better than muster an internal poll showing him tied (so did Vox Populi, a Republican-leaning pollster that had him at 44-44 and which got bragging rights in 2014 as one of the few pollsters showing anything like a competitive Virginia Senate race). But recall that polls consistently understated Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) 54%‘s margin of victory last year by a wide margin. Maybe we are headed to more catastrophic polling failures in 2016, or maybe Kentucky is just a tough state to poll.
2. How unpopular is the GOP Establishment? Bevin, of course, was hated and scorned by many in the establishment after his primary challenge to McConnell last year, and feuded at times with the RGA over spending in this race. Then again, the RGA poured a lot more money into this race over the summer than Bevin did himself, and ended up with an ad blitz at the end, and both McConnell and Bevin showed the maturity and teamwork to set aside their bad blood and do a joint campaign appearance yesterday. The Louisiana Governor’s race on November 21 will provide another test – Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) 85%, unlike Bevin, is a member in good standing of McConnell’s caucus, and he seems to be in deep trouble there. If Vitter loses after Bevin won, that may underline the anti-incumbent mood, especially since it would mean both states tossing out the party in power.