Wednesday, September 10, 2014

5 Thoughts on Yesterday's Primaries

Well team, it's now over.  Every single state has held its primaries, and now all we have left is the general.  For the Democrats, this has to be a bit melancholy, considering both Stuart Rothenberg and Charlie Cook both predicted this past week that the Democrats are going to get clobbered in the race for the Senate (I have to agree-the majority is becoming more and more of a lost cause-they'd just have to win too many red states to pull it off, though it of course remains theoretically possible based solely on polling so if you live in Louisiana, Arkansas, Iowa, North Carolina, Colorado, Kentucky, Kansas, or Alaska you better be hitting the ballot box in November...really you should vote regardless of your state).  But for now it's time for the last in our installments of thoughts on yesterday's primaries.

State Treasurer Gina Raimondo
1. Democrats Get Their Women

One of the weirdest facts in modern politics appears to be the weird disparity between female governors who are Republicans vs. Democrats.  In Congress, Democrats have something like 80% of the female members, but only one of the five female governors currently serving is a Democrat.  Last night, though, the Democrats made a big step toward changing that disparity.  Not only did they easily advance their one incumbent governor (Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire), but they nominated two women in Massachusetts and Rhode Island out of competitive primaries: Attorney General Martha Coakley and State Treasurer Gina Raimondo.  All three women start their races as frontrunners, which means that with the retirement of Jan Brewer the Democrats could well tie the Republicans demographically (the Republicans only three major female candidates this cycle are their three incumbents, all of whom look very likely to win a second term).  Democrats also have Mary Burke in Wisconsin, who is running a very strong race and could well upset Scott Walker, giving the Democrats the advantage (the left also has female candidates in Texas and South Dakota, but neither State Sen. Wendy Davis nor State Rep. Susan Wismer are seen as potential victors).  This is all the more impressive considering Emily's List started out pretty rocky this year with Rep. Allyson Schwartz getting clobbered in Pennsylvania, and will now have four major candidates to push headed into November.

2. John Tierney Breaks the Streak

In what was about to be a perfect streak for Democratic incumbents, nine-term Rep. John Tierney of Massachusetts lost his reelection last night to Iraq War veteran Seth Moulton, making him the only incumbent Democrat in Congress to lose in a primary this cycle.  Moulton, a frequent NPR commentator, ran roughly in-line with Tierney's views but as a fresh voice for the district, frequently going after Tierney for his ethics violations, which did the trick.  Oddly enough, this may be one of those rare circumstances where an incumbent actually would have done worse in the general.  This is a district where President Obama won by over 10-points, and the only reason it was vulnerable in the general was Tierney's ethics problems-Moulton may be able to neutralize that and win in November over State Sen. Richard Tisei.

Sen. Scott Brown
3. New Hampshire Looks South for Its Senate Nominee

As expected, former Sen. Scott Brown easily beat former Sen. Bob Smith and State Sen. Jim Rubens to win the nomination for the Republicans in New Hampshire, setting up a match against incumbent Democrat Jeanne Shaheen.  It's worth noting that if the NH GOP had been a little more organized, this may have turned out differently, as Brown was held under 50%-Smith or Rubens may have been able to give him a proper run for the seat if one of them had dropped out and endorsed the other.  This race still has the potential to be competitive, but like several of the Obama-state candidates running this cycle (along with Gary Peters, Al Franken, and if polling is starting to give us any indication, perhaps even Mark Udall and Bruce Braley), Jeanne Shaheen has a consistent, if not particularly large lead.  At this point the Democrats' best shot at the Senate is almost certainly to keep all of their Obama state candidates (Shaheen amongst them) in office, and pray for miracles in North Carolina, Kansas, Georgia, and Alaska (if they won two of those seats and kept all of the Obama states they'd be able to keep the Senate, provided Greg Orman caucuses with them in the case of a Kansas victory).

4. Republicans Get a Bit More Diverse...

State Rep. Marilinda Garcia won the New Hampshire-2 primary for the Republicans, besting State Sen.  Gary Lambert.  As a Latina and a millennial, Garcia fills three voids that the Republican Party is desperate to fill: women, Hispanics, and younger voters, and if elected could be a rising star in the party.  However, some may argue that Lambert, the more moderate of the two candidates may have been a better choice to take on incumbent Rep. Ann McLane Kuster in a district that President Obama won.  This seat has switched hands every wave since 2006, however, so this is definitely a seat to look out for if the Republicans continue to gain steam into the fall.

5. ...But Not Quite That Diverse

While Garcia was a step forward for a party dominated by straight white men, the other district of New Hampshire got more of the same in that regard when former Rep. Frank Guinta won the nomination in the first district over openly gay GOP businessman Dan Innis.  This means that only Carl DeMaio of California and Richard Tisei of Massachusetts are gay Republicans with a decent chance of winning this year (there are currently no openly gay Republicans in either house of congress).  It's worth noting that Guinta's win means that this is the third cycle in a row where he will take on Rep. Carol Shea-Porter-they are currently both batting one for two, so watch this race (it likely will be one of the closest in the country).

Those are my thoughts as we close the primary season-do you have any comments before we head into the final stretch in the general?  Click the link below to sound off!

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