In 2010, Chandler (D) barely won re-election by just a few hundred votes to Republican Andy Barr. The Democrats’ influence in the Kentucky House redrew the 6th Congressional district to supposedly be more favorable to Chandler by putting more traditionally Democrat leaning counties into the district and moved more conservative counties out. A Republican State Senator, Alice Forgy Kerr (Chandler’s opponent in his first election to the Congressional seat) even called it the “Ben Chandler Lifetime Employment Act”. However, Chandler lost the new counties to his district that were supposed to be helpful to him and he lost the election to Barr in the rematch - that is evidence to suggest you have the right analysis on that. Barr and the NRCC did a bang up job on making coal an issue - not just appealing to the new Eastern Kentucky counties in the district, but also explaining how it affects the broader economy and other industries jobs as well - including car sales, grocery sales, etc. so that the coal issue also would relate to the people in the core central area part of the district that coal would not have normally been an issue that would be effective. Really quite an impressive strategy. It was a very effective campaign and should have been the way the national campaign was run. If Obama had been run against nationally the way he was in the 6th congressional district I believe it would have been far more effective - Simplifying the issues and showing people how it directly affects them and their families. See some examples below:
I think that Forgy exaggerated quite a bit in her assessment of the redrawn CD. The McCain percentage was reduced by only 1%, from 55% to 54%, so it barely moved the scales. Had the Republicans not controlled the state senate, then the Democrats would have been able to do something more effective (although it still wouldn’t have made Chandler 100% safe), such as adding the Democrat (or marginal) coal counties of Wolfe, Menifee, Rowan, Elliott, Carter, Morgan, Magoffin, Breathitt, Kntt and Floyd and excising heavily Republican Jessamine, Garrard, Lincoln, Boyle, Mercer, Anderson and Estill Counties.