2023 Kentucky Governor Forecast
The battle for Kentucky Governor will be one of the hottest races in 2023. Four years after pulling off a stunning defeat of Republican Incumbent Governor Matt Bevin, Democratic Governor Andy Beshear will strive to defy political gravity once again in a state that Donald Trump won by 25% in 2020.
2022 was a breakout year for RacetotheWH. We led all forecasters in calling the highest percentage of both Governor and Senate races correctly. We predicted the GOP would win 223 seats in the House - and they won 222. This year, we've added several blockbuster features to our forecast. Our goal is to show you more details on the state of the primary and general election than you'll find anywhere else online. It's updated every day with the latest data and polling.
In 2019, Governor Andy Beshear won by 5,000 votes - the closest margin for a Kentucky Governor since 1899. While the former Attorney General ran an undeniably strong campaign, his victory was in part due to former Governor Bevin's unpopular cuts to education and health care, which made him unpopular with swing voters and mobilized Democratic voters to the polls.
To secure a second term, Beshear will have to win on his own merits, and convince a large swath of Republicans to cross party lines and support his campaign.
It won't be easy. Relative to the national popular vote, Kentucky prefers Republicans by 30% in federal elections. Voters might be less willing to vote for a Democrat now that there isn't a Republican in the White House.
Nonetheless, the GOP dismisses Beshear at their peril. Beshear enters the race with one of the highest approval ratings in the country of any Governor, and a Morning Consult poll showed that nearly half of Republicans also approve of his performance. Kentucky has a penchant for electing Democratic Governors even as it continues to decisively support Republicans in Presidential elections. Six of the last eight Governors since 1990 have been Democrats, and the last two won re-election.
Attorney General Daniel Cameron begins the Republican primary as the biggest heavyweight - and is well-liked in both the McConnell and Trump wings of the Kentucky GOP. Cameron won Donald Trump's endorsement and led the first poll of the race, which came out in June of 2022.
Cameron's political strength was not enough to scare away a deep field of high-profile GOP contenders from taking their own crack at the nomination. Ambassador Kelly Craft has emerged as a serious challenger, and her combined personal wealth and prodigious fundraising ensure she will have the resources to contend. Like Cameron, Agricultural Commissioner Ryan Quarles and State Auditor Mike Harmon are also in the running and have a proven record of winning statewide elections.