5 Reasons Why the Primaries Bode Well for Republicans

Five reasons why yesterday’s primaries are good for Republicans.

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By Mary Kate Cary, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

Miss the old “Point/Counterpoint” segment on 60 Minutes with James J. Kilpatrick and Shana Alexander? (Or, if you’re not old enough to remember that, do you miss the old Saturday Night Live skit lampooning it, with Jane Curtin and Dan Aykroyd?) No worries ... Here at Thomas Jefferson Street, we’ve got the next best thing. Robert Schlesinger and I are doing our own version--so here are my 5 Reasons Why Tuesday’s Primaries are Good for Republicans:

  1. First, yesterday’s primaries showed that last year’s Republican wins in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts were not a fluke. The most recent NBC News / Wall Street Journal poll shows a flight of independents away from the Democrats toward Republicans, and the trend has every sign of continuing as we head into the midterms. An expanding party that attracts independents wins every time.
  2. Republican candidates are successfully redefining the party’s message away from the culture wars of the 1990s to one of small-government conservatism. Rand Paul managed to get a 24-point margin over his opponent by staying away from hot-button social issues and sticking with limited government themes. It worked for Bob McDonnell, Chris Christie, and Scott Brown, too. It’s a winning message. [See who supports Brown.]
  3. Remember when all the commentary seemed to be centered on which way the Tea Partyers would go? Well, the answer is clear: they’re heading to the GOP. They have all the energy in politics right now, and they’re highly motivated to vote. It’s much better for them to show their strength at the ballot box than to hold confabs in hotel ballrooms. They’ve moved to the next level.
  4. Rand Paul’s win yesterday shows the GOP can once again nationalize races--as they did successfully in the 1994 midterms--and win. Yesterday, the Democratic candidates who did well could only do so by running away from their national party: they said that they would have voted against Obama’s bailouts (Halter's strong showing in Arkansas) or would have voted against Obamacare (Critz in Pennsylvania) or wouldn’t be a rubber stamp for their party (Sestak in Pennsylvania). [See which industries donated the most to Sestak.]
  5. Best of all, yesterday’s primaries were good for fiscally responsible candidates. Incumbents Blanche Lincoln and Arlen Specter both voted for TARP, and both felt the voters’ wrath (so did Bob Bennett of Utah and Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, to be fair). In fact, according to the Washington Post, 74 incumbents voted yes for the TARP bailout, and 17 of them are up for reelection--including John McCain. But overall, these days there are a lot more Democratic incumbents than Republican ones. And many voters are looking into who has consistently voted for bailouts and big-spending earmarks: a recent Pew poll showed that 40 percent of adult internet users in America have recently gone on-line to research government spending or look at the text of legislation. That’s a very high number of engaged citizens and it’s a sign of how many people are paying attention to government spending. That’s great for fiscally conservative Republicans.
  6. Bonus points go to Richard Blumenthal, Democratic Senate candidate in Connecticut (for retiring Sen. Chris Dodd's open seat), who didn’t hand Republicans a primary win yesterday, but who went a long way toward moving the Senate seat from blue to red. His repeated “misstatements” on whether he actually served in Vietnam as a Marine have devastated his campaign. After the New York Times broke the story on Monday, Blumenthal’s lead in the polls dropped by double-digits, pushing the race into the “toss-up” category among pundits. It’s been a good week for the GOP.

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