The night before Republicans were handed a gubernatorial loss in deep-red Kentucky, President Donald Trump told a crowd at a rally in the state that a loss would be horrible for him in the press, shouting, “You can’t let that happen to me.”
But Trump’s words rang true after the incumbent Republican governor Matt Bevin lost to Democrat Andy Beshear by a thin margin.
Here’s Trump saying at his rally in Kentucky last night that Matt Bevin losing “sends a really bad message” and pleading with his fans, “you can’t let that happen to me!”— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 6, 2019
Welp, it happened. pic.twitter.com/LUHSUAgSnB
Now, Trump is claiming that he actually helped the Republican incumbent and that, before his rally, Bevin was down by 19 points.
The number gurus RealClearPolitics recognized only four polls in the race and two of them showed that Bevin was actually leading. Another poll showed a tie between the Republican and the Democrat.
So with one Rally by me at the end of the campaign, I lift the poll numbers of Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin by 19 points, he just misses, every other Republican in the Commonwealth wins big, and the Fake News blames me for a bad night! OK! By the way, Mississippi won everything!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 11, 2019
RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel first pushed the talking point that Trump boosted the numbers in Kentucky, tweeting after the Republican governor’s loss that “no one energizes our base like Donald Trump. In Kentucky, the governor was down 17 points. President Trump helped lift the entire ticket, winning 5 of 6 statewide races so far!”
McDaniel and Trump both appear to be referencing a poll from Targoz Market Research, which showed Bevin down by those margins — but Targoz Market Research received an accuracy grade of “C/D” from RealClearPolitics; marking it as the least reliable polling conducted of the field.
After McDaniel got called out for peddling shoddy numbers, the RNC Communications Director argued that their internal numbers showed a similar deficit, writing, “The reality is our internal data had Bevin down by 15 points at the time of President Trump’s initial endorsement.”
Bevin has refused to accept defeat in the race and questioned the legitimacy of the outcome. He’s also said that he will seek a recount of the final numbers.