The only thing Democrats would find more delicious than beating incumbent Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) the day after President Trump and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) came for a visit would be ousting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) next year. What once seemed impossible now seems viable.

With all of the votes counted but the race not yet called by the Associated Press, state Attorney General Andy Beshear (D) appeared to beat Bevin by about 5,000 votes. It is hard to read the outcome as anything but a repudiation of Trump and right-wing governance. The New York Times reported:

The Republican incumbent, Matt Bevin, has focused his campaign on his alignment with President Trump and his opposition to impeachment, with the president holding a rally on Monday in Lexington to reciprocate the support. ...
Mr. Bevin’s approval has plummeted over cuts in government services he pushed for and his brash handling of a teacher walkout, calling protestors “selfish” and “ignorant,” and blaming them for hypothetical sexual assaults and the actual shooting of a 7-year-old girl.

In an off-year election, Democrats were able to crank up their margin in Fayette County (including Lexington), where Beshear won by more than 35,000 (in 2015, Bevin lost by only 11,000), and in Jefferson County (including Louisville) to nearly 100,000, where Bevin lost by about 40,000 in 2015. Moreover, Democrats flipped Warren County southwest of Lexington and two counties (Kenton and Campbell) in the suburbs of Cincinnati. Remember, this is a state Trump won by 30 points in 2016.

A stunning rebuke in one of the reddest states should send a tremor through the GOP. Perhaps McConnell will need to rethink his strategy of hugging the president. On Monday, Trump told the crowd, “You gotta vote because if you lose, it sends a really bad message. It just sends a bad and they’re going to build it up ... You can’t let that happen to me.” He was right. The message is sent, and McConnell cannot afford to ignore it.

In Virginia, the news was horrible for Republicans as well, but less surprising considering their big losses in 2017. Democrats flipped the state Senate, picking up at least two seats. In the House of Delegates, Democrats picked up at least five seats. No incumbent Democrat lost in either body. It was quite simply a rout. Virginia Democrats now have both statehouses, the governorship and other statewide races, plus both U.S. Senate seats. In the most populous part of the state, Northern Virginia, not a single Republican remained in a state or federal seat with the defeat of veteran Republican Del. Tim Hugo. It is hard to call Virginia anything but a solidly blue state.

The results are remarkable in several respects. First, Democratic enthusiasm three years after Trump’s election is sky-high. Republicans are turning out their voters; Democrats are turning out more. In 2015, Bevin won with about 511,000; Tuesday, he appeared to lose with more than 704,000. If this pattern remains, 2020 might set records for turnout.

Second, Republican losses in Kentucky and Virginia suburbs confirm the dangerous trend we saw in the 2017 and 2018 elections: They’re being routed in areas where college-educated voters reside. Outside of rural America, the GOP brand is rotten.

Finally, the notion that Democrats are hurting their brand by pursuing impeachment at this point has zero validity. If anything, it might be sustaining their base’s enthusiasm. Finally, the Democratic rout comes at a particularly disconcerting time for Trump and the Republicans. At a time he is expecting them to ignore the obvious and defend the indefensible, to lie about facts and ignore testimony, they now have been warned: Trump offers no protection. In fact, he might be a weight around anyone with an "R" after his or her name.

Read more: