There’s not much interest in the Republican primaries anymore. The Donald doesn’t have any competition. The maneuvering and back-stabbing is now illustrated in the prep for the convention, not the primaries. But there seems to be increasing interest on the Democratic side.
That’s why NBC is asking more questions about Hillary and Bernie. They say, here are six things to watch for:
1) Sanders’ Advantage: Oregon and Kentucky Have Small Populations of People of Color
Black voters have overwhelmingly backed Clinton during the primary season, and her performance in most states has been directly correlated to their African-American populations. So Kentucky and Oregon present big challenges for Clinton. Nationally, African-Americans are 13 percent of the population. They are just 2 percent in Oregon, and 8 percent in Kentucky.
2) Eastern Kentucky Could Be Tough for Clinton
In the 2008 Democratic primary, Clinton won 118 of Kentucky’s 120 counties, getting 65 percent of the vote statewide, compared to Barack Obama’s 30 percent. In Kentucky’s Fifth Congressional District, the area where much of the state’s coal industry is based, Clinton won about 88 percent of the vote. . . This area is also where Clinton’s controversial remarks about coal are likely to be most problematic.
3) Clinton Could Win Louisville and Lexington and Still Lose
Jefferson County, which includes Louisville, and Fayette County, which includes Lexington, are areas Obama won in the 2008 primary and in the general election in 2008 and 2012. They are more liberal and affluent than much of the rest of the state. . . So Sanders is likely to do well in Louisville, particularly among its white voters.
4) The Closed Primary Could Help Clinton
Kentucky’s primary, unlike West Virginia’s, is only open to registered Democrats. In most states during the Democratic primary, that has been an advantage for Clinton, because Sanders tends to be stronger among voters who are independents.
5) Could Some Kentuckians Vote for “None of the Above”?
In 2012, in Kentucky’s Democratic primary, Obama was running opposed. But a whopping 42 percent of Kentucky Democrats cast their votes as “uncommitted,” instead of backing the sitting president. Obama won only 58 percent of the vote.
6) Is Kentucky More Like Indiana, Tennessee or West Virginia?
Clinton easily won (66 percent to 32 percent) the March primary in Tennessee, another state bordering Kentucky. And according to exit polls, she won both the white (57 percent of the vote to Clinton) and black (89 percent) electorates in that state. She carried the state’s rural and urban areas.
Meanwhile, in Oregon. . .
In Oregon, Can Sanders Run Up The Margin?
Sanders trails by about 300 pledged delegates (Clinton has 1,717, Sanders 1,437). Kentucky (61 delegates) and Oregon (74) are not very significant in that delegate race, with massive states like California (546) and New Jersey (142) to vote next month.
But in closing the delegate margin, it would helpful for Sanders to run up huge margins the way Clinton did in the South, getting more than 70 percent of the vote.
CNN also has a list.
1. Can Clinton win?
Kentucky should be a good state for Clinton. Her husband was the last Democrat to carry it in a general election, in 1992 and 1996, and she beat then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama there in 2008.
In an attempt to avoid her mistakes in Indiana (where Sanders spent nearly $2 million to Clinton’s $0 on the airwaves, and Sanders narrowly won), the Democratic front-runner has invested more time and money in the Bluegrass State.
2. Sanders needs to win — big
Sanders, meanwhile, will have his eyes on Oregon, a culturally liberal West Coast state where he’ll need to rack up a massive margin of victory — and hope it’ll foreshadow similar results on June 7 in California.
Since a blowout in Kentucky is unlikely, the Vermont senator will need to crush Clinton out West. It’ll have to start with a win in Oregon.
3. How Obama helps Clinton in Kentucky
To understand why Clinton could win Kentucky on Tuesday, consider the state’s recent history in gubernatorial elections. Then-Gov. Steve Beshear, a popular Democrat even in the red state, embraced Obama’s Affordable Care Act, and his implementation served as a national model. He’s been succeeded by Republican Matt Bevin, who has set out to dismantle everything Beshear built, but also seen his approval ratings decline.
4. The GOP race is over
There’s nothing to watch on the Republican side on Tuesday. Still, Oregon is on pace to break the 1 million vote mark for only the second time in its history in a primary — with 2008, when Obama and Clinton were still competing, being the first.
5. Rand Paul’s mistake
It was early 2015, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul had a problem: He knew he was running for president — but he also knew Kentucky state law prohibited from hedging his bets by staying on the ballot for re-election to the Senate, too.
So he came up with an alternative. Paul raised and paid $250,000 to have Kentucky scrap its Republican presidential primary (originally set for Tuesday) in favor of caucuses to be held March 5.
The problem: Paul didn’t last even close to long enough to compete in Kentucky’s presidential caucuses.
The money was a waste, and now, Paul is on the ballot for a second term in the Senate.
That’s why in Kentucky, only Democrats will vote Tuesday.