Winners and losers from Tuesday's primaries

The 2018 political sea...

Posted: May 9, 2018 3:43 PM
Updated: May 9, 2018 3:43 PM

The 2018 political season kicked off in earnest on Tuesday with voters in four states -- Indiana, Ohio, North Carolina and West Virginia -- going to the polls to pick candidates for Senate, governor and House.

I sifted through the primary results and came out with some of the best -- and the worst -- of the night that was. My picks are below.

WINNERS

* Mitch McConnell: The Senate majority leader became an issue in the West Virginia Senate primary when coal mine owner/ex-con Don Blankenship referred to the Kentucky Republican as "Cocaine Mitch" in an ad. Blankenship also suggested that Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, McConnell's wife, was part of a family of "wealthy Chinaperson[s]" that somehow made McConnell biased against him. (Yes, I know that makes zero sense.) In the wake of Blankenship's third place (out of three) finish, McConnell's campaign team trolled the West Virginia Republican, with a little help from the Netflix show "Narcos."

McConnell's personal victory over Blankenship drew the most attention. But, in all three Senate races on the ballot Tuesday night -- Indiana, Ohio and West Virginia -- McConnell (and Senate Republicans) got solid candidates who will run real campaigns against Democratic incumbents. After the primary season disaster of years past, that's a major win.

* Establishment Democrats: Whereas McConnell and Speaker Paul Ryan have, at times struggled to get their preferred candidates through primaries against more base-friendly candidate, the Democratic Party has experienced no such trouble. Tuesday night's vote was no exception. In Ohio, former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau head Richard Cordray easily defeated liberal insurgent Dennis Kucinich to claim the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. Cordray's win shows that Democratic voters aren't in open rebellion against their party establishment. That's good news for the presidential prospects of one Joseph Robinette Biden Jr.

* The Democratic House playing field: It was a relatively quiet day for House races but Democrats got some unexpected good news when conservative pastor Mark Harris knocked off Rep. Robert Pittenger in North Carolina's 6th district. Democrats already believed the seat was a potential pickup opportunity but believe that even more strongly due to Harris' strong conservative positioning in a district President Donald Trump won with only 54% in 2016.

* My beauty rest: By 7:30 pm on the east coast, all the polls were closed in the four states that voted on Tuesday. That's a huge win for campaign reporters everywhere -- especially me. I require at least eight hours of sleep in my hyperbaric chamber to fight the ravages of aging.

LOSERS

* Members of Congress: There was a time when being a sitting member of Congress was a major advantage when running statewide. You had a political base and a fundraising base. Those days are done -- at least for now. In Indiana, Reps. Todd Rokita and Luke Messer lost their Senate bids to former state Rep. Mike Braun who ran as a Washington outsider. In West Virginia, Rep. Evan Jenkins lost his Senate bid to state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey who ran as -- you guessed it! -- a Washington outsider. Yes, Rep. Jim Renacci won the Republican Senate nomination in Ohio but a) he had the vocal endorsement of the ultimate outsider Donald Trump and b) the field he faced was decidedly weak.

* Don Blankenship: Fresh out of prison for his role in the Upper Big Branch mine explosion that left 29 people dead, Blankenship ran a campaign that felt more grounded in the 1950s than in 2018. His slurs against Secretary Chao, his casual use of the word "negro," his embrace of a variety of conspiracy theories -- it was an appeal to the worst in us. But, it didn't work. Despite rumors that Blankenship was surging in the final days of the race, his negatives were sky high and he was never a serious threat to Morrisey once the votes were counted. Which, no matter what your political leaning, is a good thing. Nominating someone with views like Blankenship's is a bad thing for our democracy.

* "Internal" polls: In the final five days of the West Virginia primary, the buzz coming out of the state was that Blankenship was surging. That buzz was driven by alleged internal GOP polls that showed Blankenship picking up steam. The data was not released publicly but rather simply whispered about in political circles. Turns out, Blankenship didn't have any particular momentum in the race's final days and, in fact, appeared to lose altitude over those closing days. My friend Harry Enten has much more on the perils of swallowing "internal polls" whole but suffice to say: Buyer beware.

* Lovers of chaos: This was not a night of fireworks. There were no major upsets. Things went largely as expected. Both parties, largely, got what they wanted. Of course, there are lots and lots of primaries to come....

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 31376

Reported Deaths: 1976
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9132533
Lake3260167
Cass15816
Allen124065
St. Joseph115534
Hendricks111765
Hamilton109691
Johnson1080104
Elkhart99127
Madison58058
Bartholomew47433
Porter47321
Clark45338
LaPorte39921
Tippecanoe3693
Jackson3591
Delaware34933
Howard34517
Hancock31727
Shelby31221
Floyd31238
Boone28135
Morgan25824
Vanderburgh2422
Decatur22231
White2218
Montgomery22116
Clinton2081
Harrison18421
Noble18120
Grant18120
Dubois1782
Greene16723
Warrick16426
Dearborn16221
Monroe15810
Henry1566
Lawrence14222
Vigo1417
Miami1371
Putnam1317
Jennings1264
Orange12422
Scott1163
Ripley1126
Franklin1068
Carroll912
Daviess8116
Steuben792
Kosciusko781
Newton7410
Wabash722
Wayne695
Marshall641
Fayette634
LaGrange602
Jasper541
Washington521
Fulton461
Rush452
Jay430
Jefferson411
Clay391
Pulaski390
Randolph383
Whitley342
Brown331
Sullivan321
Starke313
Owen311
DeKalb281
Knox240
Benton240
Crawford230
Perry230
Huntington222
Tipton221
Wells220
Blackford201
Switzerland190
Fountain172
Posey170
Parke170
Spencer141
Gibson132
Ohio130
Adams121
Warren121
Vermillion90
Martin90
Union80
Pike60
Unassigned0152

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 110304

Reported Deaths: 4856
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook720103304
Lake7615250
DuPage7060340
Kane5645152
Will5117257
Winnebago192550
McHenry139967
St. Clair96671
Kankakee79142
Kendall70919
Rock Island63122
Champaign5567
Madison53353
Boone39316
Sangamon32926
DeKalb3193
Randolph2583
Jackson21910
McLean20410
Ogle1902
Macon18719
Stephenson1872
Peoria1777
Clinton17616
Out of IL1501
LaSalle13910
Union1395
Whiteside13410
Iroquois1304
Coles1159
Warren1140
Unassigned1040
Jefferson10116
Knox940
Monroe9111
Grundy892
McDonough804
Lee771
Cass670
Tazewell673
Henry660
Williamson551
Marion500
Jasper457
Adams441
Macoupin411
Perry410
Pulaski400
Montgomery391
Vermilion391
Morgan341
Christian334
Livingston312
Douglas280
Jo Daviess260
Fayette202
Ford201
Jersey201
Washington180
Mason170
Menard170
Woodford172
Shelby161
Bureau151
Mercer140
Carroll132
Hancock130
Franklin120
Crawford110
Fulton110
Piatt110
Bond101
Brown100
Clark100
Cumberland100
Logan100
Schuyler100
Moultrie90
Wayne91
Alexander80
Henderson80
Johnson70
Massac70
Effingham61
Saline60
Greene50
Marshall50
De Witt40
Lawrence40
Richland30
Stark30
Clay20
Edwards20
Gallatin20
Hamilton20
White20
Calhoun10
Hardin10
Pike10
Pope10
Putnam10
Wabash10
Edgar00
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