Most election viewers are interested in the “main event” of election night on the first Tuesday of November. However, true political junkies know that many times the battle is either won or lost in the primary election months beforehand. There are exceptions, but generally each party wants to nominate a moderate, with good name-recognition, and superior fundraising ability. The nightmare, as Republicans have discovered in Nevada, is to nominate someone with extreme viewpoints who gets exposed in the general election.
Using that very broad criteria, yesterday was a very good day for Democrats. Here is an overview of the major results:
Colorado may have been the most important race last night. There incumbent Senator Michael Bennet (D) was facing a challenge from former state House speaker Andrew Romanoff. Sen. Bennet won by a decent margin. Senator Bennet was considered the more moderate of the two candidates, with Romanoff presenting a challenge from the progressive left.
The Republicans, on the other hand, nominated the more extreme, Tea Party-backed candidate Ken Buck over the Republican establishment candidate Jane Norton. Tea Partiers are likely celebrating Buck’s win, but they also were celebrating Sharon Angle’s win in Nevada before she took a nosedive in the polls. Statements Buck made in the primary (i.e. claiming he was qualified because he “does not wear high heels”) may come back to haunt him in the general election.
Right now Buck leads narrowly over Bennet in an average of polls done by Talking Points Memo. Democrats are still behind, but they like their chances a lot more with the two candidates that came out of the primary.
Incumbent Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) has announced he is retiring, giving Republicans a prime opportunity to take a valuable Senate seat in New England. However, Republicans may not have done themselves any favors last night.
Former World Wrestling CEO (yes that WWE where long-haired muscle men throw chairs at each other) Linda McMahon won the Republican primary in Connecticut. McMahon’s challenger actually quit at one point, only to return to the race and earn the endorsement of many key local newspapers. There was a general perception among those “in the know” that McMahon was unelectable in the general election. McMahon actually played a staring role in many theatrical scenes in her job at WWE, and the organization, now run by her husband, promotes many questionable scenes.
The Democrats nominated state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. So far, Blumenthal does not have the same kind of controversial past. In Talking Points Memo average of polls in the race Blumenthal currently leads by a 51.4% to 39.6% margin.
The State-Aid Package:
Finally, the best news of the day for Democrats came from Washington D.C. There the House of Representative passed a $26.1 billion state-aid package which was paid for by closing corporate tax loopholes. The package will help state and local government with their budgets, and likely save nearly 300,000 jobs in the coming months. The economy is the number one issue on voters’ minds this fall. Therefore, the state-aid package may do more to help them in coming months then any primary win.