A good night for Democrats nationally turned out to be a bad night to be a Democrat living in West Kentucky Democrat.
With only the exception of Paducah Democrat Gerald Watkins, all far western Democratic House candidatesr lost their bid to Republicans in races for seats formerly held by Democratic representatives. Watkins alone won a seat vacated by a Republican.
Kenny Imes defeated Hal Kemp in the 5th House District. Kelly Whitaker lost a bitterly fought campaign to Richard Heath. Raymond Giannini to Lynn Bechler lost his bid to replace retired legislator Mike Cherry.
Stan Humphries handily beat Carroll Hubbard to become the first senator to serve the Purchase from the Pennyrile.
While it looks like the rest of America re-elected a Democrat, the Purchase moved farther toward an identification with the Deep South. Conservatism rules. Conservatism as in "traditional marriage, the NRA and hatred for Obamacare."
The successful candidate, Watkins, faced a weak opponent. But he still went full tilt with a television ad that touted his bona fides as a gun toting, traditional marriage loving kind of guy. Whether he believes what he is saying or not, the ploy worked. He won.
Monday morning quarterbacking? Oh, why not? Everyone else will be doing it.
The chicken and the egg question comes here. Is the Purchase more conservative because the population is tilting to the right or is this area moving to the right because the right is tilting the population. It is a bit of both.
Churches and ministers are becoming more conservative. Church leaders are just as capable of reading demographics as the rest of us. They see that main line churches are shrinking and evangelicals are growing. Evangelical churches and their leaders are not politically adverse to getting involved in politics and expressing their opinions.
The area is getting older, poorer, whiter and less well educated. Republicans do better with these groups. Populations are shrinking. Demographic diversity exists only around university communities - and there it's not an overwhelming factor. The Democratic surge among Latinos and blacks just doesn't penetrate this area.
Another result of declining populations is a drain of young people, another demographic that is enjoying success with Democrats. Young people who seek higher education will not come home. They go away for jobs to urban areas, taking their opinions and any progressive leaning they may have with them.
Lack of diversity contributes to fear of those who are different. Alternative lifestyles, read here gay, are not personal relationships.
Regionally, media outlets are either conservative or apolitical. Small weekly papers avoid political stands. The days of the Paducah Sun DEMOCRAT are over. News that the rest of the country and state hear does not penetrate this area. Televisions in public places are universally tuned to Fox News.
The unique character of Western Kentuckians is that most do not want government entanglement or notice. The old joke " I'm from Washington and I'm here to help you" causing hilarity at the incongruity of the statement is not a joke here. Nobody, not the man or woman in small town, rural crossroads or moderately sized town, believe that government from out there is capable or willing to help solve problems The connection between government policy and personal success are just accepted in this area. Even local officials seem to share the belief that government from outside the county is suspect.
What the attitude leads to is election of counter-representatives, who do not promise to bring home government largresse. Instead, they promise to fight waste, hold the line on government and do as little as possible. That attitude suits the conservative mind set. If the representative does nothing, then he calls no attention the area.
The tilt to the right will not change in the foreseeable future unless Purchase voters wake up, look around and wonder why they can't have nice things like areas of the state that demand their representatives do something Purchase representatives have been asked to do - bring home goodies (witness Eastern Kentucky - specifically Pike County).
While a Democrat returns to the White House, West Kentucky goes back to sleep. It's what the majority voted for on this November 6, 2012.