The Dynamic. If you have read anything about politics in the past year, you're familiar with The Dynamic—the overriding national theme that explains what's going on in all the Republican primaries currently being held across the country. The Dynamic pits the embattled GOP establishment against those troublemakers in the Tea Party trying to take them out. It's the convenient frame for every state-level contest, with each individual race, regardless of particulars, becoming an encapsulation of where the battle stands.
But not every election can be boiled down in quite this way. On Tuesday, a Senate primary was held in Nebraska, and it wasn't clear how The Dynamic applied. There were two leading candidates: Shane Osborn, the state treasurer, and Ben Sasse (pronounced "sass," not "sassy"), a former Bush administration official—he served as assistant secretary in the Health and Human Services Department—Harvard grad, and university president.
Pundits spent months trying to determine which was the "Tea Party" candidate and which the "establishment" pick. FreedomWorks, the Glenn Beck-backed libertarian organ, first backed Osborn and attacked Sasse for being soft on Obamacare, then suddenly switched to favor Sasse. As Sasse's momentum built, he earned endorsements from Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz, the Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund. Doubts were raised about the military record of Osborn, who came under fire for forging a memo defending his service as a Navy pilot. Sasse went on an "Obamacare tour" across the state, lecturing on the healthcare law's failings in detail for hours at a time.