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'It's far from over': Political analyst weighs in on Republican race for Ky. governor

Posted at 6:56 AM, May 16, 2023

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Who will win the Republican nomination for governor? That is the big question that will only be answered after the polls officially close in Kentucky.

"We don't know how it turns out until we see real numbers [Tuesday]," said Bob Babbage, LEX 18's political analyst.

Independent polling points to Daniel Cameron coming out on top, but Babbage believes that it's too soon to say that Cameron will definitely win.

"Every indication, in terms of statistics that have been generated independently, shows Cameron on top," said Babbage. "Still, it's very competitive through the end because there's been some movement lately. Just in the last four weeks, we saw things change from one Emerson poll to the next."

"What's going to happen? It's just like a basketball game or the Derby," added Babbage. "Everyone wants to know who's going to win before we run the race. And it's open to prediction, that's for sure. But it's far from over."

Babbage points to low voter turnout as a factor in the race.

According to Secretary of State Michael Adams, total turnout at this point for absentee ballots. excused in-person absentee, and early voting is down about 24%.

"I still think we're on track for a 10%-15% 2023 primary turnout," tweeted Adams.

So, Babbage explains that the race will come down to which candidate mobilizes enough of its supporters to actually vote.

"Get your folks out and maybe a few more. That's what it comes down to," said Babbage. "Deliver the vote. Turn out the vote. GOTV, as they call it - Get Out The Vote."

And there are some specific counties that the campaigns are likely focused on. For example, Fayette County, which holds the state's second-largest share of Republican voters, is important.

"Right here in Central Kentucky, we'll certainly be watching how Lexington goes. That will be significant for sure. A lot of different predictions about how the core city turns out," said Babbage. "But counties around us matter too. They're big. They're important. And they might be different."

For example, Babbage explains that Madison County is one that the campaigns are likely watching.

"It's big. There's a vote there that you want to go get," said Babbage. "And that's why candidates have been concentrating there."

And Western Kentucky will likely play a role, as well.

"[The race] won't be decided in the East," said Babbage. "We'll need those Western votes."