Tuesday’s primaries were a fitting sequel to the last round on June 10, when House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R) lost his seat. Here are three lessons we took from a wild primary night:
— Those who best know the rules, like President Obama‘s 2008 primary campaign, will often win the game. Team Cochran had its flaws, but they ran a better race than his opponents in Mississippi, starting with the key realization that they should tap black voters who hadn’t participated in the June 3 elections (and didn’t want the hard-right Chris McDaniel (R) to win) to vote in the open primary runoff. It was a completely legal, reasonable, strategic move that appears to have clinched a Cochran victory that probably couldn’t have happened otherwise.
— Meanwhile, another lesson on race and politics reemerged in NY-13, where Rep. Charlie Rangel (D) narrowly leads a primary that hasn’t yet been called. Hispanic voters outnumber African-Americans nearly 2-to-1 in Rangel’s district, but translating those population numbers into votes isn’t simple, as we also saw in African-American Rep. Marc Veasey‘s (D) majority-Hispanic TX-33 in 2012. Relatively higher black turnout appears to have saved Rangel again.
— The third lesson: Most incumbents are still winning, but don’t mistake that for safety (at least the way we’ve known it). As we told subscribers two weeks ago, Reps. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) and Richard Hanna (R-NY) were the foremost candidates for Cantor-like surprises after quiet primaries, and at 53% Tuesday night, they both came very close to losing. Lamborn is especially interesting: He’s about as conservative as you can get, and his challenger was disliked by many of Lamborn’s former fierce critics. But Lamborn is just not well-liked by his primary voters. That might have been easier to get away with, once upon a time, but primaries are proving less and less forgiving for incumbents. More are getting pulled into dogfights, including at least 14 members who finished under 60% so far this year.
We’re about to enter a quiet primary spell, with only a few runoffs in July. But there is still plenty to think about after last night.
— Scott Bland
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Trump, in a statement: “Based on the fact that the Democratic nominating process is totally rigged and Crooked Hillary Clinton and Deborah Wasserman Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win, and now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher. ... I will wait to debate the first place finisher in the Democratic Party, probably Crooked Hillary Clinton, or whoever it may be.”
"It's about time for unity," said UAW President Dennis Williams. "We're endorsing Hillary Clinton. She's gotten 3 million more votes than Bernie, a million more votes than Donald Trump. She's our nominee." He called Sanders "a great friend of the UAW" while saying Trump "does not support the economic security of UAW families." Some 28 percent of UAW members indicated their support for Trump in an internal survey.
"Donald Trump on Thursday reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and sets the stage for a bitter fall campaign. Trump was put over the top in the Associated Press delegate count by a small number of the party's unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the convention."
"Clinton and Bernie Sanders "are now devoting additional money to television advertising. A day after Sanders announced a new ad buy of less than $2 million in the state, Clinton announced her own television campaign. Ads featuring actor Morgan Freeman as well as labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta will air beginning on Fridayin Fresno, Sacramento, and Los Angeles media markets. Some ads will also target Latino voters and Asian American voters. The total value of the buy is about six figures according to the Clinton campaign." Meanwhile, a new poll shows Sanders within the margin of error, trailing Clinton 44%-46%.