To understand the disappointment of Democrats with Tuesday's off-off-year election results, consider what they might have said had two key states, Kentucky and Virginia, voted differently.
Kentucky, a deeply red state in presidential years, has a habit of electing Democratic governors, including Steve Beshear, the popular incumbent who was term-limited. Polls gave Attorney General Jack Conway a strong chance of beating Republican Matt Bevin, a staunch tea party supporter not much liked by the GOP establishment. A Conway victory would have been heralded by Democrats as a sign of the dangers of right-wing extremism to the Republican Party.
Instead, Bevin won, and won big. In eastern Kentucky, home of the state's old coal mining areas, counties that had long supported state and local Democrats shifted sharply Bevin's way. Neither President Obama nor the Environmental Protection Agency are popular in those parts.
Democrats suffered an additional Bluegrass blow when State Auditor Adam Edelen, the party's top prospect for unseating Republican Sen. Rand Paul next year, also went down to defeat.