A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Daily Yonder: How Amy McGrath defeated Charles Booker in Democratic primary — by the numbers


By Tim Marema
Editor, Daily Yonder

Former Marine Corps pilot Amy McGrath took the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in Kentucky by winning in rural counties, small metropolitan areas, and the suburbs of the state’s two largest cities, Lexington and Louisville.

McGrath defeated State Representative Charles Booker by 11,100 votes, which amounted to about 3 percentage points of the record-breaking turnout.

First, the graph here. This shows the actual vote (not percentage of vote). Blue represents McGrath; red, Booker.

Let’s look at Booker’s winning categories, first. He had a decisive victory in the state’s only major metropolitan core county, Jefferson, which is the heart of the Louisville metropolitan area. There, he had a margin of 24 points, or 36,000 votes.

Booker also won the core county of Kentucky’s only medium-sized metropolitan area, Lexington. In Fayette County, Booker had a much slimmer margin of 6 points or 3,500 votes.

The rest of the state belonged to McGrath, and it was enough to take her over the top.

In rural areas, which constituted about a third of the Democratic turnout, McGrath pulled out an 18 point victory (50% to 32%) and a 31,000 vote margin (nearly three times the size of her statewide margin).

Now let’s look a little deeper into the nonmetropolitan vote. The graph here breaks rural, or nonmetropolitan, counties into two categories: those that are adjacent to a metropolitan area, and those that are not.

McGrath performed best in the most remote counties, nonadjacent to metros, where she won by 20,000 votes, or 21 points. (Those are the columns on the right side of the graph.)

In the nonmetro counties that abut a metropolitan area, she won by a closer margin of 14 points or about 12,000 votes.

McGrath’s advantage continued to hold in small metropolitan areas (those with populations of under 250,000). In those counties, which are in the Paducah, Bowling Green, and Owensboro metros, she won by 10 points, but with smaller turnout there, her raw vote advantage was only 4,400.

McGrath’s other victories came in the suburbs. She took suburbs of major metros (those with a population of 1 million or more) by nearly 15 points (8,900 votes) and suburbs of medium sized metros (population of 250,000 to 999,999) by 14 points (7,300 votes).

To help you see how the various types of county categories lie across the Commonwealth of Kentucky, here’s a map that shows those categories. This is not a map of the vote; it simply shows where our various categories of counties are in the state.

This story originally appeared in the The Daily Yonder, a publication of the nonprofit, nonpartisan Center for Rural Stratgies in Whitesburg. It is reprinted with permission.


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