DYCHE | Four election myths busted by Mitch McConnell - WDRB 41 Louisville News

DYCHE | Four election myths busted by Mitch McConnell

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By John David Dyche
WDRB Contributor

Mitch McConnell's enemies threw everything they had at him. National Democrats, Hollywood, climate change cultists, organized labor zealots, Kentucky's openly liberal editors and secretly liberal reporters, and bitter tea party true believers did their worst to defeat the man who is already Kentucky's longest-serving U.S. Senator.

But McConnell beat them all and by a lot more -- 15 percent -- than even the most optimistic poll predicted. In the process he dispelled multiple myths perpetuated by his impotent media adversaries. Before they get busy minimizing the magnitude of his triumph, let's review some of the myths McConnell busted with his huge win.

Myth #1: The Clintons Help Democrats

Much of Kentucky's political press still swoons whenever a Clinton comes around. McConnell must smile since, as he has pointed out, he wins whenever the Clintons come to the commonwealth to campaign against him.

How many times can Bill and Hillary Clinton come to Kentucky before it stops being “news”? The Clintons were here a lot during this campaign, but there is no evidence that the frequent presence of American's most celebrated pair of political grifters actually helped Alison Lundergan Grimes.

In fact, closeness to the Clintons apparently hurt Grimes. As Clinton appearances became practically daily fare late in the campaign, McConnell's lead over Grimes in the polls got bigger.

That should concern Hillary since the serial Clinton visits to Kentucky had as much to do with her all-but-certain 2016 presidential campaign than they did with helping Grimes. The commonwealth is a lot more Republican than it was when Bill carried it in 1992 and 1996, and much of the credit for that goes to McConnell.

Myth #2: Bluegrass Polls Are Accurate

Bill Lamb, the president and general manager of Louisville's WDRB, caused controversy early in the campaign when suggesting that polls like the Bluegrass Polls conducted by SurveyUSA for The Courier-Journal, WHAS, the Lexington Herald-Leader, and WKYT were not necessarily fair or reliable. Lamb acknowledged a poor choice of words, but was absolutely right that these polls sometimes smell funny.

The indispensable RealClearPolitics.com lists 34 polls in the Grimes against McConnell race from December 2013 to the end of October 2014. Only four of those polls showed Grimes ahead, and three of those were SurveyUSA Bluegrass Polls. The other was from June.

In early October, a SurveyUSA Bluegrass Poll showed Grimes ahead by 2 points even as multiple other polls during the same general time period showed McConnell leading by as much as 6 points. A headline in The Courier-Journal trumpeted, “Grimes surges ahead of McConnell in poll.”

Another SurveyUSA Bluegrass Poll two weeks later showed McConnell up by 1 point (and, incredibly, tied with Grimes among men) even as the other polls immediately before and after it showed him ahead by 8 and 6 points, respectively.

But the last SurveyUSA Bluegrass Poll of the campaign in late October finally conformed somewhat to other polling. It showed McConnell leading by 5 points, which was still a smaller lead than in other polls.

Similarly, in the 2008 Kentucky Senate race between McConnell and Democrat Bruce Lunsford, a late October SurveyUSA poll (which did not include The Courier-Journal and was not branded a Bluegrass Poll) showed the race tied although the twelve other preceding polls since June and the five other following polls showed McConnell ahead.

Once again, however, the final SurveyUSA poll of the campaign at last conformed to other polls by putting McConnell ahead by 8 points. He won by 6.

Likewise, in the 2010 Kentucky Senate race between Democrat Jack Conway and Republican Rand Paul, a SurveyUSA Bluegrass Poll in late September showed Paul up by only 2 points even as other polls taken immediately before and after it showed his lead at 7 and 11 points, respectively. A headline in The Courier-Journal blared, “Jack Conway pulls even with Rand Paul in Bluegrass Poll.”

But yet again, the last SurveyUSA Bluegrass Poll of the campaign in late October belatedly conformed to other polls by putting Paul ahead by 9 points. He won by almost 12.

Thus, in the last three Kentucky Senate campaigns, at least one and sometimes two SurveyUSA polls prior to the last one have produced results significantly more favorable to the Democrat than other polls taken around the same time. These results produced pro-Democrat publicity, especially from some of the sponsoring entities which would also endorse the Democrat in those races, and an illusion of Democratic momentum as the campaign came down the homestretch.

In each of those races, however, the final SurveyUSA poll more or less mirrored other polling and was relatively close to the final outcome. Based on this, the pollster and the sponsoring media can claim a good prognosticating record. But for all that is made of them, the Bluegrass Polls pretty clearly do not matter.

Myth #3: McConnell Has “Lost a Step”

This was a favorite of those in state media eager to construct an anti-McConnell narrative. And there were some uncharacteristic miscues in the 72 year-old McConnell's primary campaign or associated with his former campaign manager Jesse Benton.

But McConnell campaigned with youthful energy, sprinted across the finish line, and displayed his trademark savvy all along the way. Respected national political analyst Charlie Cook called McConnell's campaign “flawless” and rated it the best of the cycle.

McConnell not only got the jump on Grimes with his offer of early, multiple one-on-one debates, which she refused, but bested her in their much publicized joint appearance on Kentucky Educational Television. His ad about helping Noelle Hunter get her daughter back was the campaign's best.

McConnell did not look like he had lost a step either in this tough campaign or in his excellent victory speech. Even his haters have to admit that he is an amazing political force of far greater stature than the liberal Lilliputians who tried so hard, but failed, to take him down.

Myth #4: McConnell is Unpopular

McConnell's bitter, disappointed critics in Kentucky's political press will probably keep harping that he is unpopular. “The only politician more unpopular than Mitch McConnell is Barack Obama,” one wishfully wrote for a national publication in an embarrassing journalistic display of what psychiatrists might diagnose as projection.

Hello? Really? Ever heard of Alison Lundergan Grimes? Somehow she is more popular than McConnell, but nonetheless just lost to him in a landslide? Are you smoking non-industrial hemp?

The supposedly unpopular McConnell is celebrating his eighth general election victory without a loss, extending his likely unbreakable record as Kentucky's longest-serving Senator, and preparing to be the Senate majority leader and highest ranking Kentuckian in national politics in over half a century. There are a lot of politicians who would give almost anything to be so unpopular!

John David Dyche is a Louisville attorney and a political commentator for WDRB.com. His e-mail is jddyche@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @jddyche.

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