The 2015 Boyle County Exit Poll asked voters about their opinions on six issues that were discussed in the Kentucky gubernatorial campaign. Here are voting patterns for the major two-party candidates among those with each policy preference:
|Agree with Kim Davis’s decision to refuse marriage licenses (32.6% of total)||84.2%||13.2%|
|Agree on raising the minimum wage to $10.10/hour (64.3% of total)||32.5%||63.9%|
|Agree on random drug tests for recipients of public benefits (72.3% of total)||62.0%||33.5%|
|Agree on EPA regulation of the coal industry (56.2% of total)||25.9%||70.2%|
|Agree on Gov. Beshear’s Medicaid expansion decision (61.9% of total)||31.3%||65.4%|
|Agree on Gov. Beshear’s implementation of KYNECT insurance exchange (55.2% of total)||23.1%||73.5%|
For example, among those who agree with Governor Beshear’s expansion of Medicaid, 31.3% of them voted for Matt Bevin and 65.4% of them voted for Jack Conway. It is interesting that on several of these issues, a sizable number of people who prefer Conway’s position on the issue voted for Matt Bevin (and logically vice versa).
Of course, issue preferences are not the only basis for voting decisions. Factors like partisanship and demographics also make a difference. Thus, I used a “multivariate regression” analysis to see what difference each factor made in predicting a vote for Matt Bevin, controlling for the effect of every other factor. Here are the results:
|Kentucky’s economy is getting worse||32.7%|
|Disapproval of KYNECT health exchange||32.1%|
|Agree with Kim Davis on marriage licenses||25.0%|
|Agree with random drug tests for welfare recipients||23.1%|
|Disagree on minimum wage increase||21.6%|
(For statistics nerds, these are the minimum to max predicted probabilities of each factor in predicting a vote for Bevin in a logistic regression model. Presented coefficients are statistically significant at p<0.05.)
This is telling us that, controlling for all other factors, being a Republican was the strongest factor in predicting a vote for Matt Bevin in Boyle County: Republicans were 59.5% more likely than Democrats to do so. Disapproval of President Obama was the second-highest factor: those who disapprove were 47.9% more likely than those who approve to vote for Bevin.
It seems that the campaign issues of the KYNECT health exchange, same-sex marriage licenses, random drug tests for welfare recipients, and minimum wage increases all made a difference as well, although to a lesser extent than partisanship and opinions toward Obama.
It is also interesting to note that opinions on the EPA/coal and Medicaid did not matter when controlling for these other factors, nor did demographics like age, income, church attendance, or education. Also, Tea Party supporters were no more or less likely to vote for Bevin once other factors like partisanship and ideology were controlled for.
In sum, it seems that basic political factors like partisanship and attitudes toward President Obama were the key factors in explaining gubernatorial voting patterns in Boyle County. This suggests that state-level elections in Kentucky are following wider trends in becoming more nationalized. Assuming these results are generalizeable to the state as a whole, it seems that Kentucky voters are linking their voting preferences at the state and national level to a stronger degree than once was the case.