What to Watch for in Today’s Primary Elections

(Bloomberg) -- Today is a big primary election day, with contests in four states. The headline nominations up for grabs are Senate for Republicans in Indiana and West Virginia, and governor for both parties in Ohio. Republicans will also choose an opponent for Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown in Ohio, although for now, Brown seems relatively safe. Ed Kilgore has one good overview; Steven Shepard and Alex Isenstadt have another. And Daily Kos Elections continues to do a terrific job covering these races; it’s written in a very partisan (Democratic) tone, but the information is first-rate

I already discussed the big West Virginia Senate primary. Here’s what I’ll be looking for in the rest of the primaries.

Where else might Republicans select less-electable radicals and potentially give away seats – or at least make it easier for Democrats to win them? Some of the House possibilities include Ohio’s vacant District 12, which is holding primaries for both a special and a regular November election; North Carolina’s District 9, where incumbent Robert Pettinger has a rematch with Mark Harris; and Indiana’s District 2. A really unlikely, but not impossible, possibility is that front-runner Mike DeWine could lose the Ohio gubernatorial primary to Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor. 

On the Democratic side, I’ll once again be looking for evidence of stronger-than-expected outcomes from women running at every level. One place to look is North Carolina’s District 2, where Ken Romley has outspent Linda Coleman. Other than that, however, there do not appear to be many interesting House or statewide races pitting Democratic men against women. Oddly enough, there are several House primaries on the Republican side pitting a man against a woman this time (in addition to that Ohio governor one), with the woman leaning more Tea Party/Trump in most of them. 

The biggest Democratic race, however, is Ohio governor, where Elizabeth Warren ally Richard Cordray, late of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is opposed by Dennis Kucinich. This one is a good example of how it’s often less about ideological extremism than basic irresponsibility. We’ll have to see whether Ohio Democrats punish Kucinich for flirting with support of Donald Trump and otherwise continuing his long history of oddball or worse behavior; if so, it’s definitely at least one bad sign for the stability of the party. 

I’ll also be looking for any additional signs that Democrats are having trouble dealing with the flood of candidates who showed up, many of them for the first time, in the wake of the Trump presidency. That didn’t appear to be a problem in Illinois, but that’s always been a state where the organized party can do well. It also wasn’t a significant problem in Texas, but in part the runoff system in the Lone Star State makes it a little easier to handle multicandidate elections. Josh Kraushaar is correct that Democrats should be concerned about nominating duds, but so far it hasn’t been happening. If anything, Democrats seem to be unusually well-organized and ready to put up reasonable candidates in virtually all the districts that might be competitive. 

And it’s worth noting, as Alex Roarty details, that the big picture in the Senate at least is that no primary challenges to incumbent moderates ever materialized, and in fact Democrats have maintained for better or worse a unified front in the states where they’ll need to be unified to win. 

1. Mark Joslyn and Donald P. Haider-Markel find that Americans dramatically overestimate how many of their fellow citizens own guns.

3. Good one from Jonathan Chait on Oliver North and Donald Trump

4. Ariel Edwards-Levy on the effects of diversity in the electorate.

5. My Opinion colleague Ramesh Ponnuru is correct about “three cliches about Trump.” Only caveat? While I think he’s correct that we shouldn’t assume no one cares about the Stormy Daniels affair and payoff, that doesn’t mean that everyone who cares about it thinks less of Trump as a result. He may be helped, not harmed, with some voters.

6. Damian Paletta and Erica Werner report on Trump’s rescission request. Stan Collender explained earlier why it’s “more of a PR stunt than a serious policy plan,” and that was before it turned out that much of the proposed cuts are from popular programs such as the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which makes it a lousy general election PR stunt. On the other hand, if the goal is to find some cuts that the House Freedom Caucus and some other radicals can support but that Democrats and some Republicans will oppose, then maybe this makes sense. 

7. And Greg Weeks on what the San Diego Padres were wearing. Fair enough, and covers the politics of the situation, but an article about Padres uniforms that doesn’t mention anything about their much-mocked and now-revived 1970s jerseys? I don’t know.

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To contact the author of this story: Jonathan Bernstein at jbernstein62@bloomberg.net.

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