How bad was election day in Kentucky for Democrats?
The good folks at the University of Minnesota’s Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs have put it in perspective for us.
According to the school, Hillary Clinton’s 32.7 percent was the lowest percentage a Democratic has received in Kentucky since Stephen Douglas got just 17.5 percent in 1860. What made that race especially tough for Douglas was the fact that he was running against Vice President John Breckinridge, a former House member from Kentucky, the Southern Democratic nominee, who got 36.4 percent.
The Humphrey School also reports that Jimmy Carter, powered by an anti-Republican vote following the Watergate scandal, was the only Democrat to get more than 50 percent of the vote in Kentucky in the last 13 presidential elections. Bill Clinton won twice in Kentucky but both times finished with less than 50 percent of the vote, as Reform Party candidate Ross Perot helped split the vote.
Donald Trump got 62.5 percent in Kentucky. The only Republican to do better was Richard Nixon, who won 63.4 percent in 1972 as he swept to a landslide over George McGovern. How complete was Nixon’s victory that year? McGovern won only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. Republicans have now won Kentucky in five straight elections — the longest streak in GOP history.