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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

A Few Post-Primary Thoughts

I don’t have too much to add to J.P. Green’s analysis of the May 18 primaries. But here are a few thoughts:
(1) Blanche Lincoln failed to win without a runoff because she didn’t do nearly well enough in her old House district (the 1st, which is NE Arkansas) to offset a virtual drubbing in the 4th CD (southern Arkansas). She actually won Pulaski County (Little Rock), Bill Halter’s home town, very comfortably, and won throughout NW Arkansas. Since my own pre-primary analysis suggested that a large undecided African-American vote might be the key, it’s worth noting that the 4th and 1st districts have, respectively, the highest (24%) and next highest (19%) African-American population percentages. Without exit polls or precinct level data, it’s hard to say this is why Lincoln failed to win, but it looks like that might be the case, particularly since the black vote was tilting towards Halter in pre-primary polls. If so, this could be a danger sign for Halter in the runoff, since African-Americans traditionally don’t participate in southern runoff elections in anything like a proportionate manner. Otherwise, the runoff dynamics definitely favor the challenger, particularly if labor’s financial involvement on Halter’s behalf continues.
(2) The CW is that in Jack Conway KY Democrats nominated the stronger candidate against Rand Paul. That could well be true, though Dan Mongiardo’s regional strength in Eastern Kentucky, a traditionally Republican area where hard-core conservatives often struggle, might have posed some special problems for Paul.
(3) In retrospect, Arlen Specter’s long Senate career has been a continuing minor miracle. This is a guy who has managed over the course of decades to deeply alienate both liberals and conservatives, and he’s also known as one of the least attractive personalities in Washington, which is saying a lot. To survive after a party-switch would have been truly incredible.

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