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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Key Takeaways from Tuesday’s Primaries

Some nuggets mined from “What Went Down During The May 24 Primary Elections” by FiveThirtyEight’s panel of election analysts:

The biggest takeaway might be that even though tonight was not a good one for Trump’s endorsement track record, especially in Georgia, don’t write off his influence in the party just yet. Yes, Kemp handily won renomination in Georgia’s GOP gubernatorial primary, but as Alex wrote on the live blog earlier, even if Trump’s preferred candidates don’t win, it’s not “necessarily good news for the anti-Trump wing of the GOP. That’s because, at least in several of Georgia’s races, the non-Trump backed incumbent is still embracing Trumpian politics!”

The panel wrote that before Brad Raffensperger sealed the Republican Secretary of State nomination. That has to be one of the most important primary results in the U.S. thus far- and a direct slap of the face of the most corrupt President in U.S. history in what may be the most important state in 2024. More insights from individual panelists, but note that these comments are posted from most recent to earlier yesterday evening:

Geoffrey Skelley

ABC News projects that Rep. Lucy McBath has defeated fellow Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux in a member-versus-member Democratic primary battle in Georgia’s 7th District in suburban Atlanta. McBath will now be favored to win reelection in a seat where Georgia Republicans drew as a Democratic vote sink — it’s 16 points more Democratic than the country as a whole. But McBath’s victory does come with a cost for her party, as she chose to abandon the 6th District, which was redrawn as a strongly Republican seat she would not have held onto. As a result, Democrats will lose a seat in the Atlanta suburbs…..Among the Democratic senators on the ballot this year, the two biggest fundraisers are Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly and Warnock, and both face tough reelection fights in red-leaning swing states. My question is, who has a better shot at winning reelection — Kelly or Warnock? I’ll go ahead and say Kelly because Arizona has a swingier electorate — it’s just not as racially polarized in its voting patterns as Georgia is. And in a GOP-leaning year, I think Kelly could have more swing voters to win over than Warnock.

Nate Silver

I want to digest things a bit more, but if the role of the press is to “root for democracy” (I could write a long critique about what is and isn’t implied by that phrase) then I think it’s important to note that a lot of the more anti-democratic candidates didn’t perform well tonight, and that’s probably more important than the horse-race implications. As for Trump, I think there’s an argument to be made that his influence is waning, but I think a candidate like DeSantis is more likely to be the beneficiary of that than one like Pence….It’s a little hard to know how to evaluate Trump’s endorsements because what’s the baseline, really? What counts as impressive? Let’s say he can shift the race by 5 or 10 points toward a candidate he endorses. That’s enough to help, say, J.D. Vance in a listless Ohio race, but it’s not enough to help a candidate as weak as Perdue. What does that tell us about his ability to win in 2024? I have no idea, really.

Jean Yi

Trump’s candidate really only won or is leading in one competitive primary for tonight, Georgia’s lieutenant governor race. Overall, it’s a pretty bad night for Trump’s power when measured solely through endorsements — but yes, Alex makes a good point that the success of his ideals might ultimately be more enduring (but harder to measure).

Jacob Rubashkin

Kemp is not a moderate. I would say he’s Trumpy in all regards except for the stolen election conspiracy theory. This is a guy whose most famous campaign ad features him talking about rounding up undocumented immigrants in his pickup truck and driving them back across the border. His presence as a leading figure in the GOP is a testament to how Trump has fundamentally altered the party, even if his win tonight is a short-term loss for the former president.

Meredith Conroy

Now is a good time to check in on how Republican women are doing tonight. As I wrote earlier, women make up 45 percent of the Democrats’ House nominees so far but just 19 percent of the Republicans’ nominees. And for Senate races, women are 14 percent of Democrats’ nominees, but no Republican women have won their party’s nomination yet. As we’ve written before, that’s in part because Republican women face more hurdles to earning their party’s nomination than Democratic women, including weaker networks and less financial support….So far, Republican women aren’t doing great overall, but they are in some notable races. In the GOP Senate race in Alabama, former Business Council of Alabama President Katie Britt, who has support from VIEW PAC, Maggie’s List and Winning for Women, is leading with 44.4 percent of the vote share, but just 10 percent reporting. And I know we’ve been watching the Democrats’ runoff in Texas’s 28th District closely, but the GOP has a runoff there, too. That race is between two women, Cassy Garcia, who is leading, and Sandra Whitten. In Texas’s 37th District, another runoff, Jenny Garcia Sharon is leading…..As we’ve done in the previous two election cycles, FiveThirtyEight is once again tracking the success of candidates endorsed by progressive groups and progressive leaders to monitor the movement’s influence within the party. Their bag has certainly been mixed, with Nida Allam losing in North Carolina’s 4th district, despite heavy investment from progressives, and also Nina Turner’s loss in Ohio’s 11th District. But things are turning around. Summer Lee eked out a win in Pennsylvania’s 12th District, and in Oregon’s 5th District, Jamie McLeod-Skinner seemed poised to defeat the incumbent “Blue Dog” Kurt Schrader. And if Cisneros defeats Cuellar tonight, that will be another win for the progressive wing.

Sarah Frostenson

Notably, too, Nate, it’s a race where Trump sunk $2.5 million of his own campaign cash. That’s something he doesn’t usually do in races where he’s already endorsed a candidate. In other words, it’ll be hard for Trump to downplay that he didn’t care about this race…..As we continue to wait for results, let’s talk Georgia, as we do know who’s advancing there in two of the key statewide races, governor and U.S. Senate. On the Democratic side, Stacey Abrams won the gubernatorial primary, while Sen. Raphael Warnock cruised to renomination. And on the GOP side, as we’ve talked about on the live blog, incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp easily beat back his Trump-backed challenger and Herschel Walker also easily won his GOP Senate primary….It’s also notable that the new Georgia 7th District is a pretty diverse one. As Geoffrey wrote in his preview of the Georgia primaries, the district’s voting-age population is only 33 percent white. So it’s possible that McBath as a Black woman also resonated more with voters in this district than Bourdeaux, a white woman….So let’s talk about which way Georgia leans in the 2022 general election. Remember that Georgia voted for Biden in 2020 — albeit narrowly — making it the first time Georgia had voted for a Democrat for president since 1992. But according to FiveThirtyEight’s partisan lean, Georgia is still more Republican-leaning than the country as a whole, so let’s dissect the case for Georgia behaving as more of a blue state — or a more of a red state — in the fall. What’s the case for Warnock and Abrams prevailing? The case for Kemp and Walker winning? Or maybe … dare I say it … a split outcome?

Maggie Koerth

What About the Minnesota Pot Primary? We are watching both Republican and Democratic primaries in a special election in Minnesota 1st District, but if you look at the full list of people running in that district you’ll notice there are also candidates from not one, but TWO cannabis legalization parties. Why? Well, this is partly because Minnesota is a little weird with its weed laws. On paper, Minnesota looks like it’s on the more liberal end — with decriminalization and a medical marijuana program. In practice, medical marijuana here is not the same as in other states. Only two companies are authorized to produce medical cannabis, and it’s legal to treat just 13 conditions with it. It can also be really hard to find a prescribing doctor. Venice Beach this ain’t, let’s just say….But there’s also a pretty wild history of the Republican party in Minnesota using cannabis legalization parties as political spoilers. In the 2018 midterm, both the Grassroots Legalize Cannabis party and the Legal Marijuana Now party earned enough votes to earn major party status. So people could run for these parties’ nominations without needing a bunch of signatures to get on the ballot. In 2020, suddenly, there were candidates whose personal websites sported MAGA accoutrement and at least two cases of people being encouraged to run (and even financially supported) by the representatives of the state GOP….

Nathaniel Rakich

A record high of 860,000 Georgians voted early in this primary, and as of midday, the state was on pace to break its overall primary turnout record as well. Some Republicans have argued that this means Senate Bill 202, the new voting restrictions Georgia passed last year, will not “suppress the vote” the way Democrats have claimed. However, it’s really difficult to draw conclusions one way or the other. Most importantly, we have no idea what the counterfactual would be — how many people would have voted in a world where SB 202 had not passed. Secondly, record-high turnout doesn’t say anything about how difficult it was for those people to cast those ballots, and whether those difficulties fell disproportionately on some voters (e.g., Democrats or people of color).

All in all, an impressive account from a really sharp team of election analysts. Read on here for lots more.

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