Public Policy Polling surveys Kentucky and discovers this:
If Hillary Clinton was the Democratic candidate for President in 2016, she could win Kentucky. Against one of its home state Senators, Rand Paul. Despite the fact that the Republican nominee has won the state by at least 15 points in each of the last four Presidential elections....It's easy to think that Hillary would do better than Barack Obama in Kentucky because she's white -- but, as PPP notes, you look at the Kentucky results from 2004 and 2000 and you see Al Gore and John Kerry getting crushed in the state as well. (Yes, Democrats do have a large registration advantage over Republicans in the state.)
Clinton has a 48/42 favorability rating with Kentucky voters. By comparison Barack Obama's approval rating is 38/59. Clinton would lead Rand Paul 47-42 and Marco Rubio 48-40 in hypothetical match ups. That's because Clinton gets 73-74% of the Democratic vote in those match ups, similar to the 72-73% of the Republican vote that Paul and Rubio get. The reason Democrats lose time after time in Kentucky despite having a large registration advantage is that a very large number of Democrats don't vote Democratic for President, but Clinton would win over a lot of the party faithful who have declined to support Obama, Kerry, and Gore.
So why Hillary? Well, she is the wife of the last Democrat to win the state (Bill Clinton won there twice) -- a Southerner, of course. But Gore was from neighboring Tennessee, and that didn't help him in Kentucky in 2000.
Hillary, I think, has broken free of the "Democrats are effete city slickers who look down their noses at ordinary Americans" stereotype that afflicts most other national Democrats -- not just Northerners Kerry and Obama, but also Gore.
But why? Is it because she's associated with the economic good times of the 1990s? Is it because she took on Obama in the '08 primaries by pointedly campaigning in beer-and-a-shot bars in white blue-collar neighborhoods? Is it because Fox News and the rest of the right-wing media have held their fire against the Clintons since the '08 primaries, in a (mostly unsuccessful) attempt to play them off against Obama?
And is there any other Democrat who could pull this off? If so, how? I can't see Andrew Cuomo doing it, or Martin O'Malley or Deval Patrick. Elizabeth Warren? You think? (I think she's terrific, but I have my doubts.)
Maybe it's not worth the effort for other Democrats. Changing demographics have rewritten the rules. The two Obama victories have shown that the way forward for Democrats is to embrace the new rainbow America, not to try to please the people who wish diversity would go away.
Still, there seems to be one candidate who can win both the old Democrats and the new ones. It would be amazing if numbers like this held up, and this actually happened in 2016.