Big Themes from Last Night's Primaries

Posted: May 09, 2012 8:30 AM

A few quick take-aways from last night's primaries:

The GOP presidential primary: There's zero drama left in this one, but let's hit it anyway.  Romney swept the states of Indiana, North Carolina and West Virginia, winning each one by an overwhelming margin.  The only other Republican left in the race is Ron Paul, as Rick Santorum formally endorsed the former Massachusetts governor earlier this week.  Romney's trio of wins pushed him ever closer to the 1,144 he needs to officially clinch the nomination.  After the latest batch of delegates are allotted, he'll be about 190 shy of the requisite total.

Wisconsin: As I wrote on Monday, next month's recall contest could very well be the second most important election in America this year.  Last night, Wisconsin Democrats selected their 2010 losing nominee to once again face Walker, this time in an unscheduled general election -- the mere administration of which is estimated to cost taxpayers up to $16 million.  Tax-hiking, big spending Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett drubbed Big Labor's preferred candidate, Kathleen Falk, in the Democratic primary, paving the way for a rematch.  Here's the key stat: With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Republican Governor Scott Walker -- who is essentially running unopposed -- garnered more votes than the two leading Democrat challengers combined.  Talk about big-time conservative enthusiasm.  Republicans showed up in force to support Walker on a night when he didn't really even need any votes.  That's a very promising outcome, even as the latest polls show a close race. Another alarming item for Democrats: Only about half of people who signed Walker recall petitions decided to show up and cast ballots.  Things are going to get intense in the Badger State over the next few weeks.  How intense?  Here's a peek at possible coming attractions. Yikes.

Indiana: Thirty-six-year incumbent Sen. Dick Lugar was sent packing by Republican voters, who carried conservative State Treasurer Richard Mourdock to a resounding 22-point primary victory.  Despite ill-informed media buzz, Lugar is ineligible to enter the general election as an independent, due to Indiana's "sore loser" laws.  My analysis of this race is here.  Mourdock will face Rep. Joe Donnelly in November.

North Carolina: Voters turned out in record numbers to amend the state's constitution to ban gay marriage and government recognition of same-sex couples.  The margin wasn't close, at roughly 60 - 40 percent.  The Tar Heel State becomes the 31st in the union to adopt this sort of measure.  President Obama hopes to capture North Carolina again in 2012, but those hopes may be fading.  An ominous sign for Team Obama: More than 20 percent of the state's Democrats voted for "no preference" over the president.

West Virginia: This is just fun.  Roughly four in ten West Virginia Democrats voted for a man imprisoned in Texas over Barack Obama in the state's presidential primary.  The felon actually carried at least ten counties.  Methinks the president might lose this state in November.