Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

June 9, 2010

THE INHERENT CHALLENGE OF 'WHAT IT ALL MEANS'.... When election results on a big day come in, it's the job of political analysts to make note of the trends, find the common threads, and make sense of it all by explaining What It All Means.

But what's a pundit to do when voters refuse to play along? It makes for an unsatisfying electoral examination, but the truth is, for every apparent trend, there's an equally evident counter-trend.

Democrats got exactly the match-ups they wanted...

With their eyes on November, Dems desperately wanted to see Angle win in Nevada, and Campbell lose in California. They got their wish and are feeling better about both competitive Senate races.

...except where they didn't.

Dems' odds in South Carolina's Senate race went from long to impossible when Alvin Greene somehow managed to win the Democratic primary, and Dems also would have loved to see Vander Plaats upset Branstad in Iowa's GOP gubernatorial primary. He didn't.

Tea Party candidates fell flat...

The so-called "movement" rallied behind right-wing candidates like DeVore in California, Vander Plaats in Iowa, and congressional primary challengers in New Jersey's 7th and Virginia's 1st, 2nd, and 5th. All of them lost by fairly wide margins.

...except where they won.

The so-called "movement" rallied behind right-wing candidates like Angle in Nevada and Gowdy in South Carolina, both of whom looked very strong yesterday.

It's an anti-incumbent year...

Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons (R) lost badly, becoming the first incumbent governor of the year to lose in a primary. Similarly, Rep. Bob Inglis (R-S.C.) was forced into a runoff and appears very likely to lose.

...except where incumbents did fine.

Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D) scored a surprise victory in Arkansas, while Reps. Harman, Miller, Lance, and Wittman had very little trouble staving off primary challenges.

Voters rejected establishment-backed candidates...

Three members of NRCC's "Young Guns" program lost in GOP primaries yesterday, including unexpected setbacks in Iowa and South Dakota. For that matter, the Republican establishment made no secret of its support for Sue Lowden in Nevada.

...except where voters embraced establishment-backed candidates.

Practically the entire slate of party-backed GOP candidates in Virginia thrived, and in most cases yesterday, the candidate who enjoyed their party establishment's support actually won.

Palin-backed candidates continued to lose ...

The former half-term governor threw her backing to Cecile Bledsoe in Arkansas's 3rd, but Bledsoe nevertheless lost, adding to a string of defeats for Palin-backed candidates this year.

...except where they won.

The former half-term governor threw her backing to Fiorina in California, Haley in South Carolina, and Branstad in Iowa, and they all won.

For my money, the moral of the story is that there is no moral to the story. On the same day, in different parts of the country, we saw completely contradictory trends. It may be unsatisfying for those looking for trends, but it's true anyway.

Steve Benen 8:40 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (41)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

Three members of NRCC's "Young Guns" program lost in GOP primaries yesterday, including unexpected setbacks in Iowa. . .

unexpected to NRCC's out-of-state tinkerers, perhaps, but not to anyone in Iowa. Zaun polled ahead of Gibbons the entire way, Zaun is an experienced campaigner, and it was questionable whether Gibbons even lived in the district. Why NRCC chose to back Gibbons in the first place was always a mystery to me. I don't know a signle Republican friend of mine who every doubted this was Zaun's race.

Posted by: zeitgeist on June 9, 2010 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

Terrific post, Steve -- I'm sending around to my political junkie pals.

Posted by: BrklynLibrul on June 9, 2010 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

one adage is true...All politics is local....

Posted by: KK on June 9, 2010 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

If you back enough candidates, the way Palin did, some are bound to win and some are bound to lose.

Palin backing is more about making money than political gain.

Posted by: bakho on June 9, 2010 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

News orgaqnizations say it's all about women winning. They'll always find a narrative.

Posted by: Jose Padilla on June 9, 2010 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

A good day for narrative-slumming. Visit the various news-and-commentary sites and find out what story they're pushing.

Posted by: MattF on June 9, 2010 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

"Analysis" of election results is always simple and silly. It's like reading the entrails of a slaughtered chicken to divine the present -- you can always find data to support your foregone conclusion.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on June 9, 2010 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

As the day progresses and the corporate media has time to receive their GOP talking points, the 'liberal media' will undoubtably tell us that it is all a repudiation of Obama.

Except for Blanche Lincoln and that is a repudiation of organized labor and working people and that is obviously a good thing to the corporate media.

Posted by: AmusedOldVet on June 9, 2010 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

...but isn't that the story then: there is no strong national narrative affecting events. The media has nominated anti-incumbent backlash, ideological fervor, Palin-power, desire for stability as possible candidates for the national narrative, and none has shown any viability. So the story is that the narrative on the national level is still up for grabs, which is of course good news for Rudy Giuliani.

Posted by: Jim Pharo on June 9, 2010 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

Benen's quick roundup appears to be a very solid analysis.

Posted by: Annoyed on June 9, 2010 at 9:20 AM | PERMALINK

See Steve, this is why you'll never make it inside the Beltway. Any pundit worth their salt will look at this all and clearly see it's good news for Republicans.

Posted by: Anon on June 9, 2010 at 9:20 AM | PERMALINK

Well, at least Blanche Lincoln was honest when she said, last night, "For years, I have thought what is good for Wal*Mart, is good for the nation and vice versa". Hmmm, Charles Erwin Wilson and Blanche Lincoln. Two Republicans in a pod.

Posted by: berttheclock on June 9, 2010 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

Perhaps in Nevada, the Angle of the dangle is not inversely proportional to.......

Posted by: berttheclock on June 9, 2010 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

Benen's quick roundup appears to be a very solid analysis.

On second thought, this is clearly good news for McCain.

Posted by: Annoyed on June 9, 2010 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

The media did a good job of framing the Arkansas contest as insider vs outsider(out-of-state unions), rather than pro-middle class vs pro-Walmart/anti-change. I'm kind of disgusted that Bill Clinton chose Lincoln to support- not surprised, just disgusted.

Posted by: danp on June 9, 2010 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

"one adage is true...All politics is local...."

kk beat me to it!

-So I'll invent another: Only the frenzies vote in primaries. Definition of "frenzy": Someone who hates---(fill in the blank), someone who wants something from the winner. (job, money, a building permit.)

Another definition: Anyone with home-made signs, funny hats, and an 'off my meds' demeanor. . .

Posted by: DAY on June 9, 2010 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

Can someone - like Steve, maybe - tell me WHY Harry Reid is so unpopular in his own state? Do they resent him for putting the country's business before the state's? I keep see that he's unpopular, but not a reason why?

Posted by: phoebes-in-santa fe on June 9, 2010 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

What it all means is that all politics is local. Tip O'Neill figured that out decades ago.

Posted by: T-Rex on June 9, 2010 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

Conservatives got their butt kicked in 2006 and 2008. The lesson they got? They weren't conservative enough. Mixed results so far in 2009 and 2010. The lesson conservatives draw? They weren't conservative enough. If they were to do well this fall, the lesson they would learn is that being conservative works and they need to be more conservative. The news media could save a lot of money any recycle old stories with current film footage to make it look they are doing their job.

Posted by: amorphous on June 9, 2010 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

Perhaps not the main reason for the dislike of Reid in both Nevada and by many Progressives, but, since when is protecting the 1872 Mining Act in the interest of this nation and not, just protecting the silver mining in Nevada? As Reid crys, "My daddy was a miner, 49er".

Posted by: berttheclock on June 9, 2010 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

Bill Clinton ought to be reminded that the goal is to win in November. Now that he has carried Lincoln across the primary line, is he prepared and able to carry her to victory in the fall. She is a giant underdog. She has just pissed off labor and a lot of progressives. It is unlikely she is going to get them off their tushes. It looks like a job for Super Bubba.

Posted by: Ron Byers on June 9, 2010 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

Carly, bah!

Posted by: Trollop on June 9, 2010 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

I mean "Baaaaaaaa".

Posted by: Trollop on June 9, 2010 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, Lincoln's "surprising" win indeed. I think she cheated, and I want to see things done about it. (Look up "election commissioner Charles Tapp.") Down on bubba for backing that Demi-crat hack.

Posted by: neil b on June 9, 2010 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

Dems' odds in South Carolina's Senate race went from long to impossible when Alvin Greene somehow managed to win the Democratic primary

A disaster. I couldn't believe it when I read the result this a.m.

Unfortunately, I am the only person I know who bothered to vote yesterday.

Posted by: kc on June 9, 2010 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

But leave it to MSNBC to write a headline for Chuck Todd's (or is it Todd Chuck?) column to the effect that voters were in some kind of man-the-barricades vote. The MSM do love it its pre-arranged narrative, eh?

Posted by: digitusmedius on June 9, 2010 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

I found my new word for the year on Wikipedia: apophenia. "Apophenia is the experience of seeing patterns or connections in random or meaningless data."

Happens after every stock market movement, even though most theorists agree it's a largely random walk. Happens after every sporting event, even though sample sizes are way too small for one game to reveal the "mental toughness" of the teams involved. And as suggested here, it
happens after every election, when pundits rush out to tell us What It All Means because that's what they're paid to do.

Posted by: Equal Opportunity Cynic on June 9, 2010 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

Clinton wasn't alone in backing Lincoln...so did Obama.

Posted by: whichwitch on June 9, 2010 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

Looking at the Tea Party backed candidates who lost may give an indication of the voting box capacity of the TP movement. It clearly varies from state to state. Here in California, it looks like all statewide TP candidates lost their races. Orly Taitz got 26% for Sec of State, and that seems about the highest TP percentage. DeVore got 20%.

Locally, the candidate most associated with the Tea Party came in second in a three-person race for District Attorney, with 34% against 54% for the winner - incumbent and 12% for the third candidate. TP sentiment is fairly strong here. Wally Herger is my Congressman. Remember him?

Posted by: jpeckjr on June 9, 2010 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

jpeck...we're in the same CD. What an embarrassment Herger is, so he's a shoe-in again in November no doubt. At least I live in somewhat of an oasis of sanity in Butte Co. The DA, not a particular popular guy, was able to win handily against a business community toady.

Posted by: digitusmedius on June 9, 2010 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

digitusmedius . . . I'm also in Butte County. Maybe we should get together and organize a Political Animal fan club!

Posted by: jpeckjr on June 9, 2010 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

A little feed back on the SC races and "what it all means"

Trey Gowdy may be playing up to the Tea Partiers, but I don't think he is one of them. He is not much different from Inglis - solidly conservative, definitely intelligent, and not a lunatic.

As far as Alvin Greene goes - no one seems to know who this guy is, but people didn't know who Vic Rawls was either. I think he won because his name was first on the ballot. I am pretty well informed Democrat in SC and I didn't even realize their was a primary for the Senate seat. I didn't make a selection in the race.

Posted by: scarolina on June 9, 2010 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

In California, the end result proves overwhelmingly and once again that money will win Republican primaries, no matter who the candidate. Time has shown that money does not win elections here, however (except in Republican leaning districts- see Darrell Issa, Tom McClintock, Dan Lungren etc). I don't know how this bodes for the future since California has decided to adopt a top 2 vote getters run off rather than a party primary system. I fear that money may be even more of a factor now in all contests.

Posted by: Meady on June 9, 2010 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

jpeck, you're on--can "drinking liberally"* can be a part of it?

*out of respect for Atrios, of course.

Posted by: digitusmedius on June 9, 2010 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Harry Reid is possibly disliked for a couple of reasons:

1. He was spineless for a long time.

2. He is always part of the Axis of Evil; Obama, Pelosi and Reid (oh my!) as painted by the TPs.

And, Zeit, if you're still reading this...you have Republican friends???

Posted by: MsJoanne on June 9, 2010 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

digitusmedius, yes. We can even have a contest to see who is more liberal!

Name the time and place . . .

Posted by: jpeckjr on June 9, 2010 at 7:19 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmm...so many choices, jpeck. Do we feel doing the working class liberal or the elite liberal thing? Duffy's or the Taproom? Your call.

Posted by: digitusmedius on June 9, 2010 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

Elite liberal. What other kind is there in Chico?

Taproom, Tuesday, June 15? You choose the time, after work hours, though.

We're probably gonna get banned for turning Steve's blog into a social networking site. Not willing to put my personal contact info in a blog comment.

Posted by: jpeckjr on June 10, 2010 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

It looks like everyone else has moved on so maybe Steve won't notice. Tuesday--keeping the "drinking liberally" tradition even. Taproom it is. 6:30 is the earliest I could make it anyway (I work in Oroville). Meet at the bar?

Posted by: digitusmedius on June 10, 2010 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Time and place work. I'll be wearing a red shirt, glasses, bearded, balding, big guy. See you then. Looking forward to a lively political conversation!

Steve, hey, Steve . . . if you're paying attention, come on and join us!

Posted by: jpeckjr on June 10, 2010 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

This is good new!:) i'll hope this will be for a long period of time ;)

Posted by: zoekmachine optimalisatie on December 28, 2010 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly