Arkansas Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln was not expected to win
Tuesday night's primary runoff against Lt. Governor Bill Halter.
Considered too moderate to retain her party's bid and expected to be yet another
casualty of anti-incumbent rage, pundits predicted doomsday
But win she did, by a margin of only 3,000 votes. Here's what we can
learn from the race and its results.
- Nationwide, the Party
Base Is Motivated The Washington Post's Ezra Klein writes, "Part of the
narrative that's emerged
is that these primaries show an anti-incumbent, anti-Washington, year.
That's right, but it's mixed, incoherently, with pro-party -- which is
to say, pro-Washington establishment -- results. The different bases are
eliminating politicians who've been insufficiently dedicated to holding
their party's line. The result will be much more significant than
merely the election of three new senators. Rather, surviving senators
will upgrade the threat an unhappy base poses to their reelection and
trim their independence accordingly."
- Big Defeat For Big Labor
The Weekly Standard's Daniel Halper notes that a
White House official told Politico, "Organized labor just flushed $10
million of their members' money down the toiled on a pointless
exercise." Halper adds, "But it's more than just the money. It's a
rejection of the ideas the unions are peddling. The unions wanted
this election. Bill Halter, Lincoln's Democratic primary opponent, is
for card check. Lincoln is not. Card check is the unions' signature
- 'Anti-Incumbent Sentiment' Not So Universal The
New York Times' Carl Hulse writes, "On a
primary election night when the heralded anti-incumbency sentiment was
expected to again demonstrate its strength, Senator Blanche Lincoln
proved there were clear limits to its power."
- She Promised to
Change The Economist's Democracy in America says
that when "Blanche Lincoln returns to the Senate, she may not be
Blanche Lincoln anymore (at least not when an election nears). The
senator already claims to have learned her lesson. In her final campaign
spot she acknowledged voters' anger, and her response in Washington was
to favour derivatives legislation that was to the left of what many
Democrats had in mind. But it may be too little, too late."
Knew Halter Had No Chance Polling wizard Nate Silver suggests, "it's
also silly to think that Halter could have won the general [election] in
Arkansas. If you don't trust Rasmussen and Research 2000 polling
because of their extreme house effects, the only other poll of that race
was from Mason-Dixon, and it showed Halter losing to Boozman by 24
- She Just Ran a Slightly Better Campaign The
Atlantic's Marc Ambinder cautions
against reading too much into the race, given its incredibly tight
margin. "It's a funny habit we political pundits have. If, say, 3,000
votes separate a winner from a loser, we forget that a small shift in
some part of a state could have swung those votes the other way, and we
tend to massively over-interpret the meaning of the tiniest of margins.
... There wasn't much ideological room between Halter and Lincoln."
Ambinder instead cites campaign tactics, like bringing in Bill Clinton
on Lincoln's behalf and the candidates' get-out-the-vote strategies.
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