8 Things to Watch for on Primary Night

It's a coast-to-coast election frenzy

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Tonight's the night for political junkies. With voters hitting the polls in 11 states, this is the biggest primary day of the year thus far. For your reading convenience, we've distilled the most important races and trends into eight bullet points. Here's what to watch for:

  • Watch for Everything! writes Politico's Charles Mahtesian: "The headline-grabbing excesses of a few states have obscured a larger fact: With a Senate runoff, a House special election and 10 states going to the polls, it’s the single biggest day on the 2010 election calendar prior to November."
  • Watch for Nothing! writes Michael Tomasky at The Guardian: "In general, I'm not sure today's elections have much to tell us about national trends. Lots of factors in these races look pretty state-specific or race-specific to me. But as you know already, I'm the Anti-Pattern Pundit."
  • Watch These Key Races, writes Carl Cannon at Politics Daily: "The most crucial contests Tuesday are statewide gubernatorial and Senate races in South Carolina, Arkansas, Nevada and California. The rest of the Tuesday calendar, looking at the map east to west, features elections in Virginia, New Jersey and Maine; Iowa and the Dakotas in the Midwest; and the mountain state redoubt of Montana."
  • Watch for Big Players in Trouble, writes The Wall Street Journal: "In Arkansas, Sen. Blanche Lincoln is scrambling to avoid becoming the third incumbent senator this season to be defeated by her own party. Six-term Rep. Bob Inglis of South Carolina may be forced into a runoff. In Nevada, Republican voters may reject a mainstream GOP candidate and instead back a conservative firebrand to challenge Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid."
  • Watch for Anti-Incumbent Fervor, writes Dalia Sussman at The New York Times: "As voters in a dozen states cast ballots today, two new polls further highlight the anti-incumbent mood sweeping the nation. In a USA Today/Gallup poll out today, 6 in 10 registered voters say they would rather vote for a candidate who has never served in Congress than for one who has. This sentiment rises to about 7 in 10 independents and Republicans, but is shared by just about 4 in 10 Democrats, who are seeking to maintain their Congressional majority... A new ABC News/Washington Post poll delivers similarly bleak news for incumbents. Just 49 percent of respondents in the poll say they approve of the way their own representative in Congress is handling his or her job, the lowest rating since 1994."
  • Watch for Pro-Party Fervor, writes Ezra Klein at The Washington Post: "Part of the narrative that's emerged is that these primaries show an anti-incumbent, anti-Washington, year. That's right, but it's mixed, incoherently, with pro-party -- which is to say, pro-Washington establishment -- results. The different bases are eliminating politicians who've been insufficiently dedicated to holding their party's line. The result will be much more significant than merely the election of three new senators. Rather, surviving senators will upgrade the threat an unhappy base poses to their reelection and trim their independence accordingly. The moderates and compromisers who are left will stop acting like moderates and compromisers. This election looks, if nothing else, like it's going to be a big step forward in bringing strong party discipline to the Senate."
  • Watch Republican Women, implores Carl Cannon: "California, already represented in the U.S. Senate by two Democratic women, may have two female general election candidates from the Republican Party, which has never before nominated a woman to run for governor or Senate. This could change on Tuesday night. Two former Silicon Valley chief executives, Meg Whitman (e-Bay) and Carly Fiorina (Hewlett-Packard), are running strongly in their races." Besides that, there's Sharron Angle and Sue Lowden in the Nevada senatorial primary and Nikki Haley in South Carolina gubernatorial primaries.
  • Watch Margins, writes Chris Cillizza at The Washington Post. He homes in specifically on California "Polling conducted in the final week(s) of the California Senate Republican primary suggests that former Hewlett Packard executive Carly Fiorina is going to be the GOP nominee against Sen. Barbara Boxer (D).The question now is how big Fiorina's margin will be over moderate former Rep. Tom Campbell and conservative state Assemblyman Chuck DeVore. The bigger the margin, the quicker Fiorina will be able to move beyond the primary and focus her fire on Boxer.
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