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: 33068

Reported Deaths: 2068
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9524558
Lake3494175
Cass15897
Allen141966
St. Joseph122134
Hendricks114268
Hamilton113292
Elkhart110128
Johnson1092106
Madison58459
Porter50522
Bartholomew49034
Clark47941
LaPorte42022
Tippecanoe3823
Howard37824
Delaware37636
Jackson3721
Shelby36822
Hancock32727
Floyd31739
Boone30535
Morgan27724
Vanderburgh2592
Montgomery23417
White2308
Decatur22431
Clinton2221
Noble20421
Grant19721
Dubois1903
Harrison18921
Henry16910
Greene16824
Monroe16512
Warrick16528
Dearborn16521
Vigo1538
Lawrence15223
Miami1401
Putnam1357
Jennings1294
Orange12422
Scott1203
Ripley1106
Franklin1098
Kosciusko1011
Carroll933
Daviess8416
Steuben812
Marshall801
Newton7610
Wayne756
Fayette747
Wabash742
LaGrange682
Jasper661
Washington511
Jay490
Fulton471
Clay461
Rush452
Randolph453
Jefferson431
Pulaski410
Whitley383
Owen351
Sullivan341
DeKalb331
Brown331
Starke323
Perry280
Wells270
Benton260
Huntington262
Knox250
Tipton241
Crawford230
Blackford222
Parke190
Spencer191
Switzerland190
Fountain182
Posey160
Gibson142
Adams131
Ohio130
Warren121
Vermillion100
Martin90
Union80
Pike60
Unassigned0161

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

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

Confirmed Cases: 115833

Reported Deaths: 5186
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook753063519
Lake7933281
DuPage7460350
Kane6083167
Will5356268
Winnebago209153
McHenry148870
St. Clair105077
Kankakee83644
Kendall75119
Rock Island63923
Champaign5957
Madison54557
Boone42416
DeKalb3704
Sangamon34328
Randolph2674
Jackson25610
McLean21613
Ogle2002
Stephenson1992
Macon19219
Peoria1918
Out of IL1831
Clinton18017
Union1519
Unassigned1490
LaSalle14113
Whiteside13412
Iroquois1314
Coles12313
Warren1130
Jefferson10116
Knox960
Grundy952
Monroe9311
McDonough847
Lee791
Tazewell704
Cass690
Henry670
Williamson602
Marion500
Jasper457
Adams441
Macoupin442
Perry410
Pulaski410
Montgomery391
Vermilion381
Morgan341
Christian334
Jo Daviess320
Livingston322
Douglas260
Fayette203
Ford201
Jersey201
Menard190
Mason180
Washington180
Woodford182
Hancock160
Mercer160
Shelby161
Bureau151
Carroll142
Bond121
Franklin120
Piatt120
Schuyler120
Clark110
Crawford110
Fulton110
Brown100
Cumberland100
Logan100
Moultrie100
Wayne91
Alexander80
Henderson80
Johnson70
Massac70
Saline70
Effingham61
Greene50
Marshall50
De Witt40
Lawrence40
Richland30
Stark30
Clay20
Edwards20
Gallatin20
Hamilton20
Wabash20
White20
Calhoun10
Hardin10
Pike10
Pope10
Putnam10
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