Primary elections in four states drive a Republican senator from office, nominate a Democrat to take on Wisconsin's governor, and put Romney closer to the nomination.
Voters went to the polls in Indiana, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and West Virginia on Tuesday, and while the results were widely anticipated, they nonetheless amounted to a reshaping of the political landscape. A 36-year Senate incumbent, once thought to be invincible, went down to defeat at the hands of a conservative primary challenger. A constitutional amendment banning gay marriage sailed to easy passage. Democrats chose a candidate to take on Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. And while Mitt Romney sailed to victory in the three states where he and his erstwhile rivals were on the ballot, it was President Obama who posted the weakest presidential primary showing of the night.
Here's what we learned from Tuesday's balloting.
* Lugar bites the dust. The end of Indiana Republican Sen. Dick Lugar's storied career, at the hands of state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, was a bitter and humbling defeat for the 80-year-old foreign-policy grandee and another notch on the belt of the Tea Party. In the end, it wasn't even close: Lugar lost by more than 20 points, drawing just 39 percent of the vote to Mourdock's 61 percent. President Obama issued a statement praising Lugar (and euphemistically referring to his "retirement"), as did Sen. John Kerry, while the national conservative groups that had blitzed the Indiana airwaves rejoiced, from the anti-tax Club for Growth to the Tea Party activists at FreedomWorks. Meanwhile, Democrats rushed to make the case that their candidate, Rep. Joe Donnelly, would be competitive against Mourdock, whom they painted as an extreme right-winger. Lugar, for his part, fired a parting shot at Mourdock on the way out that lamented the increased partisanship of the Senate: "If Mr. Mourdock is elected, I want him to be a good senator," the statement from Lugar said. "But that will require him to revise his stated goal of bringing more partisanship to Washington. He and I share many positions, but his embrace of an unrelenting partisan mindset is irreconcilable with my philosophy of governance and my experience of what brings results for Hoosiers in the Senate."