Kentucky has me stumped. Honestly, it does. I've been talking about it with various people and it just makes no damn sense.
Look at these races. Compare the number of votes cast for Democrats.
Jack Conway: 426,964
Alison Lundergan Grimes 493,600
Andy Beshear 479,929
Adam Edelen (who still lost) 450,316
Some of the arguments I've heard are that Conway ran away from the Affordable Care Act. Okay, but so did Alison Lundergan Grimes in her Senate race against McConnell.
There was an independent candidate who got 35,629 votes. Even if those had all gone to Conway, it still would have been less than the number of votes Grimes and Beshear received.
I've heard that Conway was linked up with Obama and so the kneejerk reaction was to vote for his opponent. Okay, but Steve Beshear embraced Obama and the Affordable Care Act and didn't have a problem getting elected.
Name recognition? Alison Grimes and Andy Beshear are from long-time Kentucky political families. But Conway was the Attorney General. It's not like he was a disappearing snowflake there.
At first, I thought maybe it was the Kim Davis debacle, given that Conway played a role in the whole hoopla around that. But he won Davis' county by three percentage points, so it's not that either.
In order to believe these results as they are right now, we have to believe Democrats split the ticket and voted for Dems everywhere but the Governor's race. I'm not sure I buy that.
Finally, I'm told the RNC put through a huge ad buy in the final week of the campaign. That's all fine and well, but ads don't move that many people one way or the other, as we've seen with other failed investments in ads.
You know what that leaves for me? Voting machines.
The stakes were high in Kentucky. Governor Steve Beshear had embraced the Affordable Care Act, Kynect is a rousing success in a red state. Beshear expanded Medicaid by executive order.
Bevin promised to undo all of that. Unwind it. Lock, stock and barrel. Why on earth would Kentucky voters vote against their own interests and split their ticket to do it?
This is Kentucky, after all. It's not as if we haven't seen malfeasance at the voting machines before.
- Clay County Clerk, Freddy Thompson, 45, allegedly provided money to election officers to be distributed by the officers to buy votes and he also instructed officers how to change votes at the voting machine. ...
- Election officer William E. Stivers, 56, allegedly marked votes or issued tickets to voters who had sold their votes and changed votes at the voting machine. ...
- Paul E. Bishop, 60, allegedly marked voters or issued tickets to voters who sold their votes and he also hosted alleged meetings at his home where money was pooled together by candidates and distributed to election officers, including himself. He was also accused of instructing the officers how to change votes at the voting machine.
According to what I've been able to find, Kentucky is still using a lot of the ES&S machines known to have problems or be easily changed. Other counties use the Hart InterCivic systems. Hart is the company that Mitt Romney had ties to, as you may recall.
Entire white papers have been written on the vulnerabilities in the Hart systems.
It's too early to say for sure whether anything happened with those voting machines, but I worry that no one will even bother to investigate the possibility, given that the margin was so large. It is precisely because the margin is large that I think it should be scrutinized carefully.
I look to my friend Brad Friedman over at Brad Blog for guidance on that. When he has a chance to look everything over, I'll be back with his take on things.
In the meantime, you can talk me down. Because if it's the voting machines, we've got a serious problem.