WASHINGTON -- Tuesday's primaries sent one message loud and clear: Democrats are in deep trouble, and Republicans are headed for substantial gains in the midterm elections.
The ideological battle lines that emerged in the three major party Senate primaries in Pennsylvania, Arkansas and Kentucky could not be more favorable for the GOP's anti-incumbent, tea party-driven, "take-back-our-country" campaign offensive.
Candidates on the Democrat side were dyed-in-the-wool leftists who were in lockstep with Barack Obama's expand-the-government health care plan and other budget-busting bills, no matter how deeply they will plunge our country into further debt and insolvency.
The Republicans who won their primaries are budget-cutting, tax-reducing, anti-Obamacare conservatives who embraced the anti-Washington mood of the country and intend to push Congress in a sharply new direction.
With little more than four months to go before the Nov. 2 elections, here's what these contests tell us about the shape of the political landscape:
PENNSYLVANIA: Let's start with the game-changing prospect of a conservative Republican winning in a major Democratic state in the heart of the Northeast.
Former Congressman Pat Toomey, a conservative Republican who narrowly lost an earlier bid for the Senate, will be facing Rep. Joe Sestak, an ultra-liberal who voted with Nancy Pelosi and her left-wing gang 98 percent of the time (including Obamacare) and never met a big-spending bill he didn't like.
The big issues in this race will be Sestak's reckless voting record of higher taxes and massive debt and his cozy alliance with far-left groups like MoveOn.org, who support his campaign.
Toomey has led Sestak in all the polls for the past year, but the race is expected to tighten up and is rated a tossup by most election analysts. But independents have fled the Democrats in droves in the state, as have seniors angered by Obamacare carving $500 billion out of Medicare benefits.
KENTUCKY: Tea party conservative hero Rand Paul perfectly fits the political profile of this state in the age of Obama. He trounced the party's establishment choice, Secretary of State Trey Grayson, by 23.4 percent and is well-positioned to keep the state's seat in GOP hands.
Meantime, Democrats remain bitterly divided after their brutal primary fight. So much so that the loser, Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo (who lost by 3,592 votes), had initially planned to ask for a recanvassing of all voting machines and absentee ballots across the state. The winner, Attorney General Jack Conway, a down-the-line liberal ideologue, definitely does not fit the state's center-right profile. He supported the massive health care bill and backed labor's card check bill to unionize businesses without a secret ballot. The far-left DailyKos website calls him "courageously progressive for his state."
But Paul is popular in the state where Obamacare is intensely opposed by 60 percent of the voters who want it repealed, and is the odds-on favorite to win this open seat.
ARKANSAS: The Democrats' worst nightmare turned into a reality Tuesday when unpopular Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln could not win her primary and was forced into a June 8 runoff against liberal Lt. Gov. Bill Halter after receiving well below the 50 percent she needed for renomination.
It means the Democrats' costly and deeply divisive primary fight will continue to embroil their party for weeks, while Republican Rep. John Boozman, who won in an eight-way primary, is rebuilding his campaign war chest and preparing for the general election.
Both Lincoln and Halter, whose campaign was bankrolled by the AFL-CIO, are far too left wing for this red state's electorate, where a majority of voters, including a large population of seniors, is fiercely opposed to Obama's health care plan that both support.
A Talking Points Memo poll average shows Boozman leading Lincoln by a margin of 54.2 to 37 percentage points and Halter by a similar margin.
This was not a good week for Democrats on other Senate fronts, either.
Republicans had virtually written off any chance of picking up the open Senate seat in Connecticut being vacated by Sen. Chris Dodd. That is, until a blockbuster front-page article in the New York Times revealed that state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal had lied about serving in the military in Vietnam when he had never been in the war.
Suddenly, there were calls for the Democratic frontrunner to drop out of the race. The Cook Political Report said he is no longer the heavy favorite and rated the race a tossup, and Republicans now had a real shot at another Democratic pickup to add to their list.
And that list of endangered Democratic Senate seats is growing. Three of them: Illinois, Indiana and Nevada, are leaning Republican. Delaware and Arkansas are likely Republican pickups. And three more -- California, Colorado and Pennsylvania -- are tossups.
Right now, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid -- who looks like he will be one of his party's casualties -- has a 59-seat majority. After November, the Democrats will be lucky to have 51.
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