Matt Bevin vs. James Comer: Kentucky-GOV GOP primary race still up in the air.

This is a little bit of a sticky wicket: “Matt Bevin may have won Kentucky’s Republican primary for governor on Tuesday night. Out of more than 214,000 votes cast, the Tea Party conservative was leading James Comer by 83 votes. Yet with a margin that thin, there might be no way to know with any certainty just who GOP voters in the Bluegrass State actually nominated to lead them for the next four years.” The problem is two-fold:

  • It is, in point of fact, not impossible or implausible that a perfect, flawless recount of every ballot will show that Matt Bevin was over-counted by 84 votes*.
  • But at the same time, Bevin supporters will frankly go nuts if a recount flips the results to James Comer.

It all comes down to what we in The Life call the ‘margin of fraud:’ which is to say, the exact point where you can actually stuff the ballot boxes and get away with it. Like many other things, it’s a partisan political issue: the Left insists that it doesn’t exist and the Right insists that it happens all the time.  Truth of the matter? …Well, in my opinion it’s mostly a problem in Democratic primaries (because nobody looks at them) or Pacific Coast state general elections (because the dice always seem to roll one way in their close races). This is not because people elsewhere are angels; it’s because I don’t think that you can adjust election results by, say, 5% and not get caught. My entirely subjective rule of thumb is that you probably don’t have to seriously worry about margin-of-fraud unless there’s less than half a percent difference…

…which is great, normally, but as the Atlantic noted in the above linked article there’s a difference of .04% between Bevin’s and Comer’s vote totals.  Which means that both a bad count AND voter fraud could be plausible reasons for a recount that ended up showing that Bevin lost after all. Three guesses which one Bevin supporters will favor? – And note that I’m not actually preemptively blaming them for that; I’m merely noting that I expect them to pick ‘voter fraud’ as the answer.

This would all go a good deal more smoothly if James Comer decided that a recanvass of the voting machines was sufficient, didn’t go for a full recount, and wished Matt Bevin the best in the general election.   Comer’s almost certainly being advised otherwise, alas – and probably with the subtext What have you got to lose?  The answer being, Our best shot for the GOP flipping the Kentucky governor’s position for the next eight years. Alas, politicians tend to self-select for ambition…

(Image via Shutterstock)

Moe Lane (crosspost)

PS: I’d give Matt Bevin the same advice – bow out, gracefully – if he was the one that was 83 votes behind.

*Or, yes, under-counted by 83 votes. Or 63, or 115, or any other number in that general range.