Honestly, I just can’t get too worked up about Tuesday’s primary votes. Given how few people actually vote in these elections, I just don’t think they mean nearly as much as the the chattering class of the 24/7 news cycle would have us believe, and I don’t think we can learn all that much from them.
For example, does Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s win in Arkansas against a union-backed challenger, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, suggest a broad rejection of efforts to unseat conservative elements of the Democratic establishment? Hardly. Lincoln had the distinct advantage of incumbency, Arkansas is a conservative state, Halter isn’t exactly a progressive, the race was ultimately decided by a small group of committed electors (those who bother to vote in primaries), and, as tends to be the case everywhere, politics is as much about personality as about policy. It is certainly disappointing that she won, but perhaps her win will help Democrats hold onto the seat. Better Lincoln than a Republican, after all, regardless of how Republican she often seems to be.
Otherwise, on the other side, the California GOP apparently likes female ex-CEOs, eBay’s Meg Whitman for governor (against Jerry Brown) and Hewlett-Packard’s Carly Fiorina for senator (against Barbara Boxer); Nevada Republicans chose between two apparent crazies, Sharron “Tea Party” Angle and Sue “chicken bartering” Lowden, to go up against Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid; and, in South Carolina, accused marital cheater and target of intra-party racial/religious abuse Nikki Haley (the now-Methodist daughter of Punjabi Sikhs), backed by Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, and Jenny Sanford, now heads into a gubernatorial nominee run-off against a four-term Congressman.
Ho-hum. What I take from these and other Republican contests is that the GOP is entrenching itself as a party of rigid ideological extremism, much of it related to teabagging. As if we didn’t know that already.