Long answer: well, that's what National Journal looked at in their analysis of Matt Bevin's victory Tuesday night in the Kentucky gubernatorial race. There were four lessons NJ looked at....
- Polls are increasingly becoming worthless. Going into Election Day, the polling averages had outgoing Democrat AG Jack Conway winning over businessman Bevin (the last poll had Conway up 45-40)....on Election Day, Bevin turns around and wins 53-44 over Conway. The problem: pollsters are increasingly having to deal with a voting public that is turning more to cellphones and not the old traditional linelines; on top of that, its' becoming harder & harder to find representative sample populations, something even the best pollsters - Gallup & PPP come to mind - have acknowledged. In addition, even when pollsters do get the numbers relatively right, voters often surprise them on Election Day (Britain, Israel & Canada come to mind here).
- Even if the GOP's outreach this year to black voters didn't entirely pan out, it continues a pattern that should scare Democrat leaders. Bevin, to my knowledge, is the third GOP candidate to successfully outreach to black voters (the other two that come to mind are Maryland's Larry Hogan & Illinois's Bruce Rauner) and while most pundits might dismiss Bevin's efforts, it is telling that, in all of the years of elections in the Bluegrass State, it was the GOP who set another milestone in electing the state's first black Lt. Governor in Jenean Hampton...now, Democrats' will say, "Oh, but she's just a token black..." to which the GOP, if they're smart, will use to remind voters of how petty & shallow the Dems' are towards one of their main constituencies.
- Elections are increasingly becoming nationalized affairs. Former Speaker Tip O'Neill once famously opined that "all politics are local". That saying - like point #1 above - is increasingly becoming outdated. Since 2008, the Dems' have lost over 1,000 elected positions at all levels of the electoral spectrum and Republicans look poised to continue building on what increasingly is looking like a generational majority. To borrow & paraphrase Pres. Obama's infamous quote, "Finally, something the Dems' built!"
- Rand Paul's Election Night Gift. Now, one might wonder what Rand Paul has to do with Matt Bevin's victory? Well, in leading the GOP ticket statewide (4 of 6 statewide victories, including Bevin's), one of the Democrat victims was State Auditor candidate Adam Edelen, who was - had he won Tuesday night - expected to challenge Paul down the road for Paul's senate seat. Unfortunately, Edelen's loss means that Paul can increase the throttle on his presidential aspirations and not worry as much about defending a senate seat that is all-but-certain to remain in GOP hands, even if Paul were to decide not to defend it (remember, Dems' tried and failed to force the issue of which race Paul was going to run in).