The Atlantic Politics Daily: When Some Politics Really Is Local

Republicans win in red states, Democrats win in blue states—or not. Plus: Amy Klobuchar’s Pete Buttigieg problem

It’s Wednesday, November 6. Bill Taylor, George Kent, and Marie Yovanovitch will testify in the first round of open hearings next week as part of the House impeachment inquiry.

Plus: Jeff Sessions reportedly plans to run for his old U.S. Senate seat. We’ll be back tomorrow with more on that.

In today’s newsletter: ¶ People. Bevin v. Beshear. Pressley’s for Warren. ¶ Places. Kentucky, Ohio, Montana, Massachusetts. ¶ Movements. Texas secessionists.


(Ryan M. Kelly / Reuters)

Every now and then, an election vindicates the old maxim that all politics is local.

Lately, a different pattern has been playing out in just about every statewide election—Republicans win in red states, Democrats win in blue states.

But on Tuesday, Democrat Andy Beshear won over the incumbent Republican governor of Kentucky, Matt Bevin, by the slimmest of margins (Bevin has refused to concede).

Donald Trump won Kentucky by nearly 30 points in 2016. Republicans have a stranglehold over the legislature; all but one member of the state’s congressional delegation is Republican. Yet Beshear captured one Kentucky county that Trump had won by 45 points.

David Frum ponders: What forces pushed Beshear over the top, and was this result a warning to the GOP?

I looked around for other recent instances of candidates holding their own, in states held by the other party. Our writers explore the complex factors behind these wins:

¶ Ohio was once the quintessential swing state; now it’s swung right. Still, Sherrod Brown keeps on winning as the lone Democrat to be elected to statewide office in many years.

¶ Montana Governor Steve Bullock is putting his winning-in-a-red-state bona fides front and center in his 2020 campaign. (But his message isn’t breaking through much nationally.)

¶ Alabama is as reliably red as states can be. But in 2017, Doug Jones delivered one of the most surprising election results in recent memory, becoming the first Democrat to win a U.S. Senate seat there in 25 years. (Unusual factors were at play.)

¶ The Republican Larry Hogan eked out a surprising win in Maryland’s governor’s race in 2014—and again last year (the year of the so-called “blue wave”) by an even wider margin.



Amy Klobuchar ticks a lot of boxes as a 2020 candidate. Yet she can’t seem to break through.

At a recent campaign stop in Philadelphia, the Minnesota senator made her pitch to the kinds of suburban, moderate voters who might be key to a Democratic victory in 2020.

But, our reporter Elaine Godfrey found, someone else is basking in the centrist spotlight Klobuchar has been fighting for. Here’s a taste of what voters told her:

“She’s never been a particularly inspiring orator.”

“I haven’t really been paying attention to her, because my eyes are always drawn to Pete.”

Read Elaine’s full dispatch from Philadelphia.

+ More from Elaine: I’ve been reading a lot about persuadable voters in swing states recently. One interesting takeaway: White, college-educated persuadable voters may not really like President Trump, but they don’t like progressives much either.



If Texas seceded, would Washington just let it go? Graeme Wood traces the origin of the “Texit” movement in the latest issue of our magazine:

Texas itself is, in some ways, its own civilization. As a schoolboy, some 30 years ago, I learned about a woman in Texas who’d developed a 328-pound ovarian cyst, the largest ever recorded. When I told a classmate, he pumped his fist in the air—the record was ours.

Read Graeme’s full profile of Daniel Miller, the president of the Texas Nationalist Movement.

« Before You Go »

Ayanna Pressley in 2018 (Bryan Snyder / Reuters)

Elizabeth Warren has a buzzy new endorsement: One member of “The Squad” breaks with its members to support her longtime ally and home state senator.

Read more about Ayanna Pressley’s stunning rise into national prominence.


Today’s edition of our daily newsletter of political ideas and arguments was written by Saahil Desai and Christian Paz, and edited by Shan Wang.

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