WASHINGTON -- Super Tuesday's primary results gave voters a much sharper, bolder definition of the Republicans' anti-incumbent campaign against the Democrats in the midterm elections.
Billed by the news media as "the year of the women," the GOP women who won Senate and gubernatorial nominations from South Carolina to Nevada to California certainly gave a refreshingly new political image to the party's emerging lineup.
But the GOP's primaries yielded more than that. They sharpened the contrasts they offered voters this year with anti-establishment, fiscally conservative, free-market advocates at a time when voters think government has become too big, too costly and dangerously hostile to the American free-enterprise system.
Here's my rundown of the major primary winners and what they portend for the GOP in November.
-- California: This state has been trending Democratic for more than a decade and remains a tough battleground for Republicans. But the state government is deeply in debt, its economy in shambles and job growth almost nonexistent.
This is an election tailor-made for business-trained outsiders who know how to balance a budget, manage a large bureaucracy and challenge entrenched political interests.
This description perfectly fits Meg Whitman, the former CEO and founder of eBay who won the gubernatorial nomination, and Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, who is running for the Senate.
Whitman will be challenging former Gov. Jerry Brown, a lifelong liberal politician, and Fiorina is taking on liberal Sen. Barbara Boxer. Polls show both women are making this a competitive election.
In her victory speech Tuesday night, Whitman best defined what she and Fiorina stand for: "Career politicians in Washington and Sacramento and Washington, D.C., be warned, because you now face your worst nightmare: two businesswomen from the real world who know how to create jobs, balance budgets and get things done."
-- Nevada: Sharron Angle, a former assemblywoman, came from behind in a crowded field of candidates to win the right to run against Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid. She is a gutsy conservative fighter who is making Congress' out-of-control spending, the jobless recovery and Reid's blank-check support for President Obama's agenda the chief issues in her campaign. Angle won with strong support from the state Tea Party movement but also for her political skills as a counterpuncher who knows how to stay on offense.