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Elections Still Matter: Politics in the Shadow of Impeachment

If you are reading this, chances are you know that President Donald Trump is  just the fourth president in United States history to be under an impeachment inquiry. This topic has been discussed at length with figures on both sides of the aisle taking their case to the public. But while this topic will be covered from every angle and every point of view, the smoke of impeachment proceedings clouds a very stark reality: the country is going to have their say in who should be president in 2020.

 

Leading up to our next presidential election will be a series of smaller but consequential chances for voters to have their say. In 2019, a trio of Southern states will see voters cast ballots on who should be their next governor. Although historically Republican states, The New York Times describe how Democratic candidates in Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi have a chance to win their gubernatorial races this November. The ability of Democrats to win two or more of the contests may sound warning bells for Republicans going into 2020. On the other hand, the ability of Republicans to win all three states suggests that the base of the party remains very active and focused on victory—regardless of whether Donald Trump or Mike Pence is their standard bearer next November.

The three Southern states of Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi will host important governor races in 2019 which could set the tone for the 2020 Presidential election. Source: Rutgers Center on the American Governor.

In Louisiana, pro-gun, anti-choice Democrat Jon Bel Edwards is seeking a second term against a divided Republican opposition. In Mississippi, state Attorney General Jim Hood believes his populist progressivism could make him the first Democrat to win the governorship there in 15 years. In Kentucky, the incumbent Governor Matt Bevin—a favorite of the country’s hard right—is fighting for his political life in a state Trump won in 2016 by thirty points. His chief opponent is Democrat and Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshar, son of Bevin’s predecessor as governor. This race is likely to be the marquee contest of 2019 because it pits a very pro-Trump governor against a moderate Democrat with deep ties to the state. While the Republican presidential nominee is expected to easily win Kentucky in the 2020 presidential contest, the state’s Senate contest is expected to be much more contested and consequential. Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader, is very unpopular in his state and has a strong challenger in Amy McGrath, a retired air force officer who narrowly won a very Republican Kentucky House district in 2018. McConnell’s seat is both symbolically important—he successfully refused to allow President Obama to fill a Supreme Court seat thus helping a conservative majority emerge on the court—as well as politically important. With the Senate currently split 53-47, both parties have a real opportunity of winning the Senate come 2020 and McConnell’s seat will likely be a deciding factor in which party controls the chamber come January 2021. If Beshar wins and wins easily or if Bevin is able to do the same, the election will prove informative for both major parties and set the tone for 2020 races in Kentucky and beyond.

 

Governor Bevin (Left) and Kentucky Attorney General (R) square off in what promises to be the marquee gubernatorial election of 2019. Source: WDRB.com

 

Which is where Social Studio comes in. It is a great tool for seeing what opinions are on Governor Bevin. As an incumbent running for a second term, the 2019 gubernatorial election will be in part a referendum on his performance as governor. Thus, public opinion and news coverage of him a month from election day holds great importance. Which is why Governor Bevin’s campaign should be worried by what Social Studio is seeing.

 

Social Studio sentiment feature shows that Matt Bevin is being viewed highly negative in social and traditional media. Source: Social Studio

 

A full two-thirds of sentiments towards Matt Bevin were described as negative suggesting that at least among Twitter users and portrayals in local and national media, Bevin faces an uphill climb in his race for a second term. By coincidence, this post was being written while a Kentucky gubernatorial debate was being held. So if you would like to investigate this contest a bit further without Social Studio algorithms, just head over to Twitter and use the hashtag #KYDebate. Who do you think won based on the coverage you are seeing? Regardless of the outcome, this contest promises to be full of drama and impact as we near towards election day. It is yet to be seen how this contest may influence other upcoming races in Kentucky and other parts of the country. Staff of the Adam Brown Social Media Command Center will continue to monitor these and other stories—such as the impeachment probe—as we all work to navigate these trying and unusual political waters.