Following Senator Mitch McConnell’s historic Election Day victory, Louisville Courier Journal columnist Scott Jennings proclaimed: “Mitch McConnell is Kentucky’s most popular politician in modern history.”
In case you missed it, here’s what else Jennings had to say:
We gather to bury a familiar trope, an old chestnut that hung around for years but finally succumbed to the facts last Tuesday night. It never should have lasted this long, frankly, but was artificially kept alive by the witch doctors who know how to do such things.
The myth of Mitch McConnell’s unpopularity is finally dead, buried by the Senate majority leader’s crushing 20-point victory over Amy McGrath. And replacing that urban legend is simply the truth: McConnell is, in fact, the most popular Kentucky politician in modern history.
Kentucky’s longest-serving senator has now been elected seven times by his people. He has won 56% of the 9.983 million votes cast in his races, versus just 43% for his Democratic opponents.
In this year’s race, McConnell won every region of the state outside Louisville, according to a CNN exit poll with 1,657 respondents. The survey had other nuggets: He won the suburbs and rural areas. He carried 18- to 24-year-olds and senior citizens. He carried 90% of Republicans and nearly half of independents. He won 15% of Black voters, far higher than your typical Republican. He won people who make more than $100,000, and people who make less than that. He won 56% of men and 59% of women. […]
People like voting for McConnell. Yet every six years we enter a familiar echo chamber of lies about how everyone hates him, propped up by shoddy polls underpinning the dumbest liberal wishcasting imaginable. […]
Much of this urban legend was created by my friend and fellow columnist Al Cross, who has been blazing this dead-end trail for years. He has frequently attributed McConnell’s electoral wins to money, the political environment or weak opponents. In other words, anything but the truth: that McConnell’s politics and positions are in line with most voters in Kentucky. […]
How, I wonder, will Cross and his media cohorts explain this year’s election?
McGrath’s campaign raised nearly $88 million through Oct. 14, a number sure to climb higher when more paperwork is filed. And that doesn’t count the tens of millions McGrath’s super PAC allies spent aiding both her campaign and that of the Libertarian candidate. Amy McGrath Inc. raised enough money to fund two statewide campaigns, and both failed spectacularly. She campaigned aggressively across the state, flying herself from town to town and scoring an impressive amount of media attention. […]
National outlets like The New York Times lap up Cross’ and Jones’ horrifically inaccurate punditry because the people who work and live in blue bubbles want to believe in this tired yarn, even as the cold, hard facts stare them in the face. McConnell is an effective conservative, so we hate him and everyone in Kentucky must hate him, too.
But none of these geniuses ever stop to ask themselves: Could we be wrong? By what metric are we making that judgment? The man wins elections at home and in his Senate conference, has personally overseen his state party’s ascendance to crushing dominance, and is the most consequential Senate majority leader since Lyndon B. Johnson. For the next three decades, we’ll be referring to the Supreme Court as “McConnell’s Court,” for goodness sakes.
Accept the truth, guys: Kentuckians love McConnell and reward his conservative positions, stature, record and calm disposition (a frequent target of scorn by the dumb pundits) with their votes. He’s not a backslapper, but he gets stuff done, keeps his wits about him, and has firmly planted Kentucky at the center of the political universe.
McConnell never gets a pass in his campaigns, always facing well-heeled candidates with strong political or professional credentials. And since his 2008 race, the national Democratic Party has thrown everything at him but the kitchen sink. Yet he stands victorious once again, a capstone victory akin to Ted Williams, perhaps the greatest hitter who ever lived, smashing a homerun in his last at-bat.
As the Senate majority leader said to me the other day: “Not too bad for a guy who’s so unpopular!”