Mitch McConnell won Kentucky's Republican U.S. Senate primary election with 60 percent of the vote to challenger Matt Bevin's 35 percent. The Bluegrass Poll that the Courier-Journal, WHAS-TV, the Lexington Herald-Leader, and WKYT-TV released last Friday showed 55 percent of likely GOP voters supporting McConnell, 35 percent for Bevin, and 5 percent undecided.
So that poll, which had a 4 percent margin of error, understated McConnell's eventual support by five percent. Perhaps that is not bad as polling goes, and maybe McConnell got all the undecided, but that difference is instructive when considering polling about the general election.
The Bluegrass Poll put Democratic nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes ahead of McConnell by 43 percent to 42 percent with 7 percent undecided. And that was before McConnell fully trained his campaign sights on Grimes.
When Bevin announced much of Kentucky's mostly anti-McConnell political press was practically orgasmic with excitement. But the same folks who once gushed about how formidable the well-funded Bevin would be and how McConnell's team was making unprecedented mistakes soon changed their tune.
They set about minimizing the magnitude of McConnell's accomplishment against the biggest spending primary challenger to an incumbent senator since 2008 and hyping Grimes, their last best hope for beating McConnell. Do not buy into their spin.
Bevin's concession speech was his campaign's best moment. Standing in front of his beautiful family, but obviously still stinging from the painful political education he had received from a political master, he could not quite bring himself to endorse McConnell by name as he should have. If he has aspirations of another campaign he will soon swallow his pride and do so wholeheartedly.
There is a lot to like about Bevin. Surely most of his negatives are now behind him. He can finally introduce himself to voters and rehabilitate his tattered image. Bevin tried to fly too high too fast, but plenty of Republicans would welcome him as a 2016 opponent to liberal and likely to be reelected Democratic congressman John Yarmuth of Louisville.
Grimes got by a trio of token foes who spent almost nothing, but her numbers in several traditionally Democratic coal counties of Eastern Kentucky portend bad things for the woman that Michelle Obama says it is critical to elect. Grimes tries to have it both ways when it comes to the Obamas.
A rooster emblem represents Democrats on Kentucky's election ballots. It is a wonder that cock did not crow Tuesday night as Grimes dishonestly denied her party's political messiah, President Barack Obama, for whom she was a proud delegate at the 2012 national convention.
Radiant in a Republican red dress, Grimes shamelessly sought to distance herself from Obama's aggressively anti-coal policies. She helped to elect Obama knowing full well that he was waging a war on coal, but she now hopes to hoodwink Kentucky voters into believing she would not be a reliable soldier for him in Washington.
Why else would so many of Hollywood's most radical liberals be pouring money into the Grimes campaign? They care not a whit for Kentucky, but want to promote Obama's agenda and know she will help do that.
Grimes has admittedly improved her speaking style. She used to resemble a deranged street corner preacher, loudly ranting, comically repeating her own name, and wildly flailing her arms.
The new and improved Grimes still yells at her audience, but has dialed it down a few decibels. She relies less on third person references to herself, and confines her gestures to awkward, Al Gore-style robotic movements disconcertingly out of sync with her words.
Neither candidate is a Kennedy or Reagan when it comes to oration, but that does not matter. Their predictable speeches at the Fancy Farm picnic in August are the only ones that will get much attention.
The real battle will be fought on the airwaves. Their obnoxious campaign ads will quickly drive Kentuckians crazy and test the durability of many a mute button.
McConnell's most effective weapon may be his fellow Republican and Kentucky's junior U.S. Sen. Rand Paul. The Bluegrass Poll showed Paul leading Democrat Hillary Clinton 48 percent to 44 percent in a 2016 presidential match-up in the state. Not too shabby.
Paul gave a good video introduction of McConnell at the GOP victory celebration. He can help bring disaffected Tea Party Republicans back into the fold. Paul can make the case for McConnell as a much-needed bulwark against an Obama administration that may be more dangerous than ever during its final two years.
McConnell also offers Kentuckians clout at the Capitol. He could become Senate majority leader. This proud state, which suffers from a sometimes warranted inferiority complex, has not had someone so highly placed in Washington since the Truman administration.
An inexperienced, pro-Obama, Democratic novice is extremely unlikely to beat a highly skilled, anti-Obama, Republican national leader in a federal election in Kentucky this year. It should surprise no one if McConnell defeats Grimes by about the same 6 percent margin he enjoyed over Bruce Lunsford in 2008.
John David Dyche is a Louisville attorney and a political commentator for WDRB.com.
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