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Kentucky, Virginia give Democrats a blueprint for beating Trump in 2020

When historically Republican strongholds turn blue for the first time in years, it’s a good idea to ask why.

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin during a Nov. 5 rally at Rupp Arena in Lexington.
President Donald Trump shakes hands with Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin during a Nov. 5 rally at Rupp Arena in Lexington. Bevin lost to Democrat Andy Beshear.
Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

While Democrats are celebrating a number of significant local electoral victories in unlikely places last night, Republicans are left struggling to keep the political shrapnel from grazing their cult commander, President Trump.

And not doing it particularly well, either.

Donald Trump Jr. was on Fox News last night, working hard to insist that Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s loss to Democrat Andy Beshear wasn’t related at all to his father, who just this week had tweeted that he is a “GREAT” governor. Trump also delivered one of his signature 11th-hour rallies in Kentucky to push Bevin over the edge, calling him “maybe the greatest [governor] in the history of this state.” The president put no finer a point on its importance than this: “If you sends a really bad can’t let that happen to me.”

Despite this, Don Jr was adamant: “Matt Bevin has picked some fights, but this has nothing to do with Trump. [Republicans] swept the rest of the ticket, did great in Mississippi ... the two don’t really have that much to do with each other.”

That, apparently, wasn’t approved messaging, however. Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale released a statement explicitly tying the president to Bevin: “The President just about dragged Gov. Matt Bevin across the finish line, helping him run stronger than expected in what turned out to be a very close race at the end.”

He shouldn’t be surprised if Republicans don’t see the silver lining in Bevin’s loss.

And that wasn’t the only alarming contest for Republicans. In Virginia, Democrats turned the swing state blue, winning majorities in the commonwealth’s House and Senate, giving full control to Democrats for the first time in two decades.

And a blue wave took over a number of long-time Republican strongholds in Pennsylvania, including all five seats of the Delaware County Council.

This is all very bad news for the Republican Party.

And Democrats are absolutely right to tie these losses to Trump. It’s impossible to extricate him from even the most local election when he was personally involved in some, and has singularly remade the GOP in his image. There’s little left of the Republican Party that Trump hasn’t torn down and rebuilt like one of his garish hotels.

Further, when historically Republican strongholds turn blue for the first time in years, it’s a good idea to ask why. It’s natural to look at the guy who has inserted himself into our daily lives in some unprecedented ways, from his obnoxiously invasive social media presence, to wading into NFL race politics and televised dance competitions, to imposing anti-farmer tariffs and punitive policies for minorities and immigrants.

When the goal has been a cultural takeover, its failure in even the friendliest of places is more than noteworthy. The Republican Party could lose big in elections all across the country in 2020.

With all that said, a final word of caution to Democrats who also believe all this is proof the president will lose his own race next year.

Trump was philosophically on the ballot in Virginia, Kentucky and Pennsylvania, but not actually. When it’s Trump versus a Democratic nominee who may support truly unpopular, radical, impractical policies, who is telling the very people who considered Trump the last time that they’re backward and racist, and who says anyone who disagrees with their progressive agenda just doesn’t get it, Trump will look a lot more appealing to a lot more people.

Trump’s campaign adviser, perhaps unintentionally, spelled it out in clear language last night on Twitter, in attempting to re-explain why a Democrat managed to win in a state Trump won by nearly 30 points in 2016, the largest margin of any Republican since Richard Nixon in 1972.

“The Democrats nominated a moderate, who’s [sic] dad was a moderate, who didn’t talk about impeachment of Trump, and who acts like a Republican,” said Parscale.

Talk about giving Democrats the 2020 blueprint for how to beat Trump….

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S.E. Cupp is the host of “S.E. Cupp: Unfiltered” on CNN.