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POLITICS: Campaigns

A quick observation on the June 24 primary results

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Michael Barone,Tea Party,2014 Elections,Campaigns,James Lankford,Thad Cochran

The headline result is summarized by the headline on Jennifer Rubin's blog post at the Washington Post this morning: “the Tea Party comes up dry.” True, but there were special factors in each case she cites. Sen. Thad Cochran won the runoff in Mississippi largely because of support from usually Democratic black voters who were eligible to vote under state law. I'll have more to say on that in a later blog post.

Rep. James Lankford, the winner over T.W. Shannon in the Oklahoma Senate primary for Tom Coburn's seat, had support from Coburn and from many religious conservatives; he's only a two-term House incumbent and used to head the largest religious children's summer camp in the country. Former Rep. Bob Beauprez led loudmouthed immigration opponent former Rep. Tom Tancredo in the Colorado gubernatorial primary; Tancredo's chances in the general election seemed dubious to many voters. Incumbent Rep. Richard Hanna narrowly defeated a challenger in upstate New York.

Underneath these special factors, I think Republican primary voters have been more reluctant than in previous years to gravitate to candidates who, as I put it in a column earlier this year, want to stand up on a chair and yell, “Hell, no!” The reason, I think, is that they observed the negative public reaction to the government shutdown last October (see this Real Clear Politics graph for a vivid illustration). They realize that nominating such candidates could cost them not only a potential Senate majority but also their existing majority in the House.

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Michael Barone

Senior Political Analyst
The Washington Examiner

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