LOUISVILLE-- With the election of Phillip Wheeler, Kentucky's Senate is redder than it's ever been before. This at a time when progressives are touting a 'Blue Wave."
Election night 2018, a 'Blue Wave' took over the country. Congressional Republicans lost 41 seats, many of them to progressive women.
However, that Democratic sweep didn't make it into Kentucky.
Dr. Dewey Clayton, a political science professor with the University of Louisville, says he wasn't too surprised that Kentucky stayed much as it was. Clayton remarked, "I would say its politics have been more in line with other Red states in the South."
As of March 15, 2019, Kentucky still has more registered Democrats than Republicans, 1,683,454 to 1,433,029. While Republicans are closing the gap, Clayton says Kentucky voters don't always vote with their party. "Even when many voters in the state here remained as registered Democrats, they had begun voting for Republicans" Clayton added, "You found a lot of Democrats, you still will, that Democrats at the national level are way too liberal."
Nationally, the midterms had Democrat Amy McGrath lose to incumbent Andy Barr, and in the state house, Democrats picked up a few seats in the House, but then lost some in the Senate.
Clayton says he expects that to keep happening. He remarked, "I think it will probably become redder."
He says a lot of that is not because of what is happening in Frankfort, but instead what is happening in Washington, especially once Barack Obama won the Democratic primary. He explained, "There was a lot of concern here before he was elected that he was going to take away guns. He went on, "And then Hillary Clinton runs and then she says how she's going to shut down coal. And so all of these things have contributed to many local Kentuckians feeling that the national level, they were not just leaving the state behind, but not really caring about the state."
While recent elections have given Republicans supermajorities in the statehouse, Clayton thinks Kentucky's swing to the right started during the civil rights era. "You had Richard Nixon come on in 1968 with the so-called 'Southern Strategy'. He was appealing to Southern voters, and basically playing to their fears that he thought that many whites would have."
Lyndon Johnson kicked off his war on poverty in Kentucky,and Clayton says money might be what brings people back to Kentucky's Democratic party. Clayton said, "When they start looking at this so-called massive tax-cut for the wealthy, and start seeing, as we're around tax time, and people are starting to see that rather than getting a nice little refund, they're actually having to pay."