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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Today in bad news for Donald Trump:
- Newsweek found that a company he controlled did business with Cuba under Fidel Castro "despite strict American trade bans that made such undertakings illegal, according to interviews with former Trump executives, internal company records and court filings." In 1998, he spent at least $68,000 there, which was funneled through a consluting company "to make it appear legal."
- The Los Angeles Times reports that at a golf club he owns in California, Trump ordered that unattractive female staff be fired and replaced with prettier women.
In some of the first state-by-state surveys since Monday night's debate, Hillary Clinton has the edge in five battlegrounds, according to polls by Public Policy Polling. In four-way matchups, Clinton leads Donald Trump 46%-40% in Colorado, 45%-43% in Florida, 44%-42% in North Carolina, 45%-39% in Pennsylvania, and 46%-40% in Virginia. Gary Johnson doesn't top 7% in any state. Voters in all five states thought that Clinton decisively won the debate.