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Polarized Political Parties at the Primary Polls

May 19, 2022
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Tuesday’s primary elections were a political junkie’s delight, featuring surprising upsets, startling rebukes and razor-thin margins. The Pennsylvania Republican Senate primary is still unresolved when I write, with celebrity TV doctor Mehmet Oz leading Wall Street banker David McCormick by only 1,684 votes—less than 0.13% of more than 1.3 million ballots counted. The outcome depends on an unknown number of remaining mail-in votes—potentially tens of thousands—and 20,000 ballots in Lancaster County with a printing error that made them impossible for scanners to read. It may take until the weekend to get a final tally.

As is often the case in primary elections, there are important takeaways about the state of politics and both parties. Tuesday’s results should be a warning to Republicans and Democrats alike as they look ahead to the midterms this fall.

As seen earlier in the Ohio, Indiana and Nebraska primaries, former President Donald Trump’s “Complete and Total Endorsement” is still the most valuable backing out there for Republican primaries—but not a guarantee of victory. As of now, Mr. Trump is 3-2 in Tuesday’s six competitive Republican primaries, with the Pennsylvania Senate race (in which he backed Mr. Oz) still up in the air.

Mr. Trump’s favorite prevailed in the North Carolina Senate primary. Aided by almost $12 million in spending by the Club for Growth, Rep. Ted Budd earned an impressive 59% of the vote. After receiving the former president’s blessing last week, state Sen. Doug Mastriano won the Pennsylvania gubernatorial contest with 44%. In North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District, the Trump-approved 26-year-old college football star Bo Hines took 32% to capture the Republican nomination for the open seat.

The results went against Mr. Trump’s endorsed candidates in North Carolina’s 11th congressional district, where the controversial Rep. Madison Cawthorn was defeated for renomination by state Sen. Chuck Edwards, and in Idaho, where incumbent Gov. Brad Little easily beat Trump-backed Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin 53% to 32%.

A second takeaway from Tuesday’s results is that Republicans have a real enthusiasm edge. In the Pennsylvania primaries, with potentially tens of thousands of ballots to be counted, at least 1.33 million Republicans voted, compared with 1.2 million Democrats. In the last midterm primaries, four years ago, at least 737,312 Republicans and 775,660 Democrats voted in the Keystone State. As of this writing North Carolina Republican turnout totaled 759,554 while Democratic turnout was 613,170. Four years ago, 294,295 Republicans and 431,875 Democrats turned out in the Tarheel State primaries for Congress. The GOP turnout increases of 80% in Pennsylvania and 158% in North Carolina should worry Democrats.

 

Tuesday’s primary elections were a political junkie’s delight, featuring surprising upsets, startling rebukes and razor-thin margins. The Pennsylvania Republican Senate primary is still unresolved when I write, with celebrity TV doctor Mehmet Oz leading Wall Street banker David McCormick by only 1,684 votes—less than 0.13% of more than 1.3 million ballots counted. The outcome depends on an unknown number of remaining mail-in votes—potentially tens of thousands—and 20,000 ballots in Lancaster County with a printing error that made them impossible for scanners to read. It may take until the weekend to get a final tally.

As is often the case in primary elections, there are important takeaways about the state of politics and both parties. Tuesday’s results should be a warning to Republicans and Democrats alike as they look ahead to the midterms this fall.

As seen earlier in the Ohio, Indiana and Nebraska primaries, former President Donald Trump’s “Complete and Total Endorsement” is still the most valuable backing out there for Republican primaries—but not a guarantee of victory. As of now, Mr. Trump is 3-2 in Tuesday’s six competitive Republican primaries, with the Pennsylvania Senate race (in which he backed Mr. Oz) still up in the air.

Read More at the WSJ

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