LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky voters, whether by absentee mail-in, early voting, or at the polls on Election Day, will cast ballots in several key races.
What You Need To Know
- Kentucky has not voted for a Democrat presidential candidate since 1996
- Polls show Trump will easily win the Bluegrass State
- Senate race between Mitch McConnell and Amy McGrath sets fundraising record
- Five of state's six congressional districts are solid Republican
Aside from the President of the United States, Kentucky voters will elect a U.S senator, several U.S. representatives, state senators, state representatives, state Supreme Court Justices, local judges, school board members and members of local governments.
President of the United States
Former Vice President Joe Biden won Kentucky’s Democratic primary on June 23 with 365,284 votes and President Donald Trump won the Republican primary with 371,723 votes. In the past 10 presidential elections, the Republican candidate has won Kentucky eight times and the Democratic candidate has won the state two times. In those elections, Kentucky has voted for the eventual winner eight times. A Democratic candidate has not won the state since Bill Clinton in 1996.
Kentucky has eight votes in the Electoral College.
President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence easily defeated Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and her running mate Tim Kaine in the 2016 General Election, with Trump garnering 62.5 percent of the vote in the Bluegrass State.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney won Kentucky decisively in 2012 over President Obama. Nearly every poll shows President Trump winning Kentucky in 2020, with some polls showing Trump winning by as few as nine percentage points and others showing Trump winning Kentucky by as many as 20 percentage points.
United States Senate
Democrat Amy McGrath is challenging incumbent Mitch McConnell for his seat in the United States Senate. McConnell, a Republican from Louisville, was first elected to the Senate in 1984 and has been majority leader since 2015. McConnell defeated Democratic challengers Alison Lundergan Grimes in 2014 and Bruce Lunsford in 2008.
McConnell's announcement that the Senate will vote in 2020 to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death on Sept. 18 is an issue in the race, as is coal and healthcare. As of July, McGrath had raised more than any other U.S. Senate candidate during the 2020 election cycle with $47 million and McConnell raised the third-highest amount at $38 million, according to the Federal Election Commission.
The outcome of this race will affect partisan control of the U.S. Senate. Thirty-five of 100 seats are up for election, including two special elections. As of October 2020, Republicans have a 53-45 majority over Democrats in the Senate. Independents who caucus with the Democrats have the two remaining seats. Republicans face greater partisan risk in the election. They are defending 23 seats while Democrats are defending 12. Both parties have two incumbents representing states the opposite party’s presidential nominee won in 2016.
A Data for Progress poll from Sept. 19 found McConnell with 46 percent support to McGrath’s 39 percent. The poll had a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points. McGrath narrowly defeated Charles Booker in the 2020 Democratic Primary.
McConnell said his record in the Senate included confirming two Supreme Court justices and leading on legislation that lowered taxes and helped Kentucky farmers. He said he garnered bipartisan support to pass COVID-19 relief legislation.
McConnell said McGrath is “far-left” and “extreme,” highlighting statements she made in support of impeaching Trump, in opposition to a border wall, and in support of abortion access.
McGrath, who has never held a political office, emphasized her background as a Marine fighter pilot, saying her leadership and service would transfer to representing the people of Kentucky in the Senate.
McGrath claims McConnell stood up for special interests instead of Kentuckians. She said he received millions in donations from Wall Street and the banking industry and criticized his opposition to the Affordable Care Act and votes against raising the minimum wage, among other positions.
United States House of Representatives, District 6
Kentucky’s Sixth Congressional District is based in central Kentucky. The cities of Lexington, including its suburbs, Richmond, and Frankfort, as well as Anderson, Bath, Bourbon, Clark, Estill, Fayette, Fleming, Franklin, Madison, Menifee, Montgomery, Nicholas, Powell, Robertson, Scott, Wolfe, and Woodford counties, and portions of Harrison and Jessamine counties, comprise the district.
District 6 has been represented by Republican Andy Barr since 2012. He is being challenged by Democrat Josh Hicks, a Lexington attorney. An Oct. 6 debate between Barr and Hicks turned fiery, as the men clashed over the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic and accused each other of distorting their records.
President Trump carried Kentucky’s District 6 by 15 points in 2016, and Barr narrowly defeated McGrath for the seat in 2018, winning by three points. Politico predicts Barr will win re-election since five of Kentucky’s six congressional districts voted for Republicans in the 2018 midterm elections.
STATE SENATE RACES
Nineteen of Kentucky’s 38 state senate seats are up for election in 2020. The outcomes of the 2020 election cycle in Kentucky stand to influence the state’s redistricting process following the 2020 Census. In Kentucky, the state legislature is responsible for drafting both congressional and state legislative district plans. District plans are subject to a gubernatorial veto.
Republicans currently control the Kentucky Senate, holding all but 10 seats. One incumbent – Republican Rep. Albert Robinson – was defeated in the June 23 Primary Election, making 2020 the first election since 2014 an incumbent senator was defeated in a primary.
For more on Kentucky's election visit our Decision 2020 section.