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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Dogs That Aren’t Barking

On Tuesday, June 8, there will be ten states holding primaries, with a runoff in an eleventh, and a special election runoff in a twelfth. There will be lots to talk about tomorrow morning and night, but it’s worth noting today that several contests which earlier looked very close have now become laughers.
This is most obvious in California, where it appears that the once-torrid Republican gubernatorial and Senate primaries are turning into victory laps for (respectively) Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina.
Whitman appears to have finally spent rival Steve Poizner into submission, and according to every recent poll, Poizner’s obsessive focus on immigration in the stretch drive hasn’t done him much good. Sorry if I seem to keep harping on this, but total spending in this race has gone well over $100 million. Meanwhile, Democrat Jerry Brown didn’t have to campaign to win the Democratic nomination, and has been able to sit back, raise money, and watch Whitman screw up her early “centrist” positioning.
Money was also a factor in Fiorina’s late surge into the lead in the Senate primary: she had enough to run TV ads, while onetime front-runner Tom Cambpell had to put everything into a too-late effort to convince Republicans he had a better chance of beating Barbara Boxer. But Fiorina also benefitted from a consolidation of conservative voters who didn’t want to see Campbell–who is both pro-choice and pro-gay-marriage–win.
Another barburner that seems to have fizzled out is the Iowa Republican gubernatorial primary, which former Governor For Life (a joke: he only served for 16 years) Terry Branstand should win easily over arch-conservative Mike Huckabee surrogate Bob Vander Plaats, if the authoritative Des Moines Register poll is right. Sarah Palin’s late endorsement of Branstad was probably a reflection of that reality more than a contributor to it.
And finally, another race that seems to be generating a runaway winner is creating its very own kind of drama: the SC Republican gubernatorial contest, where Nikki Haley’s surge has continued despite, or perhaps partially because of, poorly documented allegations of marital infidelity against her. At this point, the big questions are whether (1) she can reach the 50% threshold necessary to win without a runoff, and (2) subsequent evidence of infidelity emerges that could, given her vow to give up her candidacy or even resign the governorship in this contingency, blow up her campaign, and the SC GOP, down the road.


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