Democrats from red state Kentucky aren't discouraged

Sep 5, 2012

The seating arrangements on the floor of the Time Warner Cable Arena tell it all when it comes to Kentucky's role in this presidential election.

The Bluegrass State's 73 delegates are about halfway back in the arena, up against the far wall, to the left of the speaker's podium - not the prime position that goes to key battleground states like Ohio, Florida and Virginia.

But the delegates aren't discouraged, even though the Commonwealth hasn't voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1996, when Wednesday's principal speaker, former president Bill Clinton, won Kentucky - as he did in 1992.

And they believe that, even if winning Kentucky is an impossible dream, volunteers from the Bluegrass State can volunteer and have an impact on key battleground states such as Ohio.

"I can see Kentucky a little more fired up this year,'' said Paul Whalen of Fort Thomas, the chairman of the Campbell County Democratic Party.

Winning Kentucky's eight electoral votes would be a monumental task, Whalen said, especially given the fact that, four years ago, John McCain took 57 percent of the vote to Barack Obama's 41 percent. There was a gap of about 300,000 votes between the candidates.

"The one thing I see this time around is a lot more support from our statewide officerholders,'' Whalen said, particularly Gov. Steve Beshear, who has been in Charlotte for the convention.

"The one issue that could resonate in our favor with Kentuckians is Medicare,'' Whalen said. "The Republicans essentially want to turn this into a voucher system. That is not going to go over very well with a lot of people in Kentucky."

The three northern Kentucky counties - Campbell, Boone and Kenton - are among the most heavily Republican in the state. But Whalen said Obama has considerable support in Covington; and said he has seen polling that showed Obama doing well in places like Newport and Dayton.

But, even if winning Kentucky for Obama is a near impossible dream, Kentucky Democrats have other ways they can help the president win a second term.

"There are a lot of people on the Kentucky side of the river who are going to be making phone calls into Ohio and Pennsylvania and other key states, trying to win over voters there,'' Whalen said. "There will be a big volunteer operation."

"People will be getting out their Christmas card lists and contacting their friends in Ohio for Obama,'' he said. "People will be going over to Ohio knocking on doors. We may not win at home, but we can help win the election."