Category Archives: Election Analysis

California Primary Results Still Unfolding

The California primary vote occurred Tuesday, but as many as eight congressional races are still unresolved. Because the California election law allows mail votes, which now normally comprise more than half of the cast ballots, the counting process drags on for days. The Secretary of State estimates that the counties are now sorting, counting, and reporting hundreds of thousands of additional primary votes.

For example, Los Angeles County indicates that it is handling 162,108 mailed, delivered, and provisional ballots. A “delivered” ballot is one where the voter actually returns his mail ballot to the polling place. San Diego County estimates 135,000+ votes remain to be counted. San Bernardino, the site of the two of the eight undeclared elections, has only 13,911 ballots remaining.

The biggest surprise race in the undeclared category is right in San Bernardino County’s 31st Congressional District, the place where Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA-42) is attempting to seek re-election. Under a rudimentary calculation formula based upon only publicly available information, it appears that just 5-10,000 votes remain to be counted. If true, this means Mr. Miller will qualify for the general election because he placed first with 27 percent in the jungle primary. As you will remember, California now has a top-two finisher law, meaning that the top two vote-getters, regardless of political party affiliation, advance to the November general election.

In second place, at 25 percent, is Miller’s fellow Republican Bob Dutton, the state Senate Minority Leader. Posting 23 percent, some 1,500 votes behind Dutton, is Redlands Democratic Mayor Paul Aguilar. If there are less than 10,000 votes remaining, then it would be extremely difficult for Aguilar to make up the difference between he and Dutton. Failing to do so means the Republicans would qualify both candidates for the general election here, guaranteeing the party will win this very marginal seat. Such a result will be a huge boon to the Republicans and certainly Rep. Miller.

Also partially in San Bernardino, the new 8th District that should elect a Republican in the general election, is in a virtual four-way tie, though the later numbers suggest that GOP Assemblyman Paul Cook and businessman Gregg Imus (R) will qualify for the general election. The other very close competitors are Democratic businesswoman Jackie Conaway, and Republican accountant Phil Liberatore. If Cook and Imus qualify for the general election, a second double Republican campaign will evolve.

In northern California’s 2nd District, the seat from which Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA-6) is retiring, state Assemblyman Jared Huffman (D) has secured a general election position. The open question is whether Republican Dan Roberts, currently second, or liberal author Norman Solomon will qualify for November. Huffman becomes the clear general election winner should Roberts hold onto second place because the seat is so heavily Democratic in general elections.

In San Diego, Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA-50), who scored an underwhelming 41 percent in the new 52nd CD, has qualified for the general election. He waits to see whether San Diego Port Commission chairman and former city councilman Scott Peters will be his opponent or ex-assemblywoman Lori Saldana. The two are only separated by 645 votes (meaning less than one percentage point), and the order could easily change when the estimated 35,000+ uncounted ballots are added to the total. Whatever the final result, Bilbray will have a highly competitive race on his hands in November.

In the new Central Valley 21st District, anchored in and between the cities of Bakersfield and Fresno, GOP state Assemblyman David Valadao easily captured the first position with 57 percent of the vote and waits to see if former Hispanic Chamber of Commerce president John Hernandez or Fresno City Councilman Blong Xiong will qualify to challenge him later this year. Hernandez leads Xiong by 1,046 votes with an unknown number of ballots remaining to be counted. Against either man, Valadao becomes the prohibitive favorite for the open seat win in November, which would neutralize the Republican loss of retiring Rep. David Dreier’s (R-CA-26) seat in Los Angeles County, from a delegation count perspective.

Though the following elections will not be competitive in the general election because all of the succeeding incumbents will cruise in the November vote, Reps. Doris Matsui (D-CA-6), Judy Chu (D-CA-27), and Linda Sanchez (D-CA-38) all await a determination as to who they will face in the general election.

California House races will be heavily discussed throughout the remaining cycle because of the large number of competitive races that are on tap. Right now, it appears Democrats are secure in 27 of the state’s 53 congressional districts, Republicans’ 13, with five Democratic-held seats and four Republican-held seats headed for strong general election competition.

Four new open seats, including the aforementioned CA-21, are up for grabs. Three of the four (Districts 26, 41, and 47) appear to be headed to the toss-up or “tilt” categories. Republicans Tony Strickland and John Tavaglione appear to have the early advantage in Districts 26 (Ventura) and 41 (Riverside), respectively. State Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D) has a slight edge in new District 47 (Long Beach area), but his primary performance (34 percent) was clearly unimpressive. His GOP opponent is Long Beach City Councilman Gary DeLong who ran stronger than expected, scoring 29 percent, and eliminated former one-term Rep. Steve Kuykendall (R-CA-36).

Exit Polling: Not So Fast

One of the postscripts of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s recall election victory yesterday was the news media’s prodigious reporting of the associated exit polling. Along with coverage of Walker being re-elected was their secondary story that President Obama leads Mitt Romney within this same voting universe, 51-44 percent. But, just how accurate are typical exit poll findings?

As we have seen in many elections, early exit poll reporting has been wrong. Most famously was the networks calling the state of Florida for Al Gore back in 2000, based upon exit polling, and announcing that the then-vice president had defeated George W. Bush. But, there have been many other incorrect predictions based upon this type of electoral polling over the years, just not as famous as in the Bush-Gore contest.

Exit data is sometimes flawed because the polling samples are not randomly selected. This lessens the reliability factor. Survey firms will choose polling places based upon electoral voting history, selecting precincts that accurately reflect the statewide voting patterns. While at the polling stations, it is the voters themselves that volunteer to answer the survey questions instead of the pollsters conducting more random sorting procedures within the sample cell. Therefore, the data found in these polls should not be considered in the same reliability category as benchmark or even tracking surveys that are conducted over a long period of time. That’s not to say exit polling has little value. One simply must take into account that their reliability factor is much lower.

Calif. Primary Preview

Tomorrow, California voters go to the polls along with those in five other states, the latter we reviewed on Friday. Because of the Golden State’s new primary election law, the top two finishers in all partisan elections will advance to the general election regardless of political party affiliation. This, along with a congressional redistricting map that adds more competition to California politics, creates an entirely new dynamic and changes campaign strategies. For a state that defeated only one incumbent during the entire last decade, as many as 22 of the 53 congressional seats will see some level of legitimate competition.

District 1 (Wally Herger-R retiring: Open Seat) – This northern-most California open seat will almost assuredly stay in the Republican column. Tomorrow’s vote will answer whether this will be a double-Republican general election, meaning state Sen. Doug LaMalfa and former state senator Sam Aanestad both qualifying for the November vote. Or will Democrat Jim Reed slip into second place by solidifying the Democrats?

District 2 (Lynn Woolsey-D retiring: Open Seat) – This Marin County/north coast district will go Democratic in the fall and will likely see two Democrats move into the general election. State Assemblyman Jared Huffman (D) will certainly be one qualifier. The question is will liberal author Norman Solomon or businesswoman Stacey Lawson secure the second position.

District 3 (John Garamendi-D) – Expect Rep. Garamendi and Colusa County Supervisor Kim Vann (R) to be the general election participants in what should be a competitive general election, in a seat that is much more Republican than the incumbent’s current 10th District.

District 7 (Dan Lungren-R) – Tomorrow’s vote will likely yield a re-match between Rep. Lungren and physician Ami Bera in what again promises to be a competitive general election. Lungren is favored, but not by much.

District 8 (Jerry Lewis-R retiring: Open Seat) – The new 8th District, stretching northward from San Bernardino up the California-Nevada border, will likely send two Republicans to the general election. Assemblyman Paul Cook (R) will probably advance with eight Republicans vying for the second position.

District 9 (Jerry McNerney-D) – This Stockton-San Joaquin Valley seat is much different from Mr. McNerney’s previous district. It is decidedly Democratic, but Republican Ricky Gill has already raised well over $1 million. This general election battle could get very interesting, but McNerney is the clear favorite.

District 10 (Jeff Denham-R) – Retired astronaut Jose Hernandez (D) will likely be the qualifier against freshman Rep. Jeff Denham in a district that has only a 38 percent carry-over rate from his current district. National Democrats like Hernandez. Denham is the decided favorite.

District 15 (Pete Stark-D) – Expect a double-Democrat general election between Rep. Stark and Dublin City Councilman Eric Swalwell. Stark only represents 46 percent of the new district, so things could get very interesting here in November.

District 16 (Jim Costa-D) – Rep. Costa decided to run in this Central Valley district rather than the new 21st that contains 79 percent of his current constituency. Rep. Dennis Cardoza’s retirement allowed Costa to run here, which is a more Democratic district. This seat could become competitive in the general election, but the Republican qualifier will likely be a relatively weak candidate. Costa has the inside track to re-election.

District 21 (Open Seat) – Rep. Costa not running here gives the Republicans their best conversion opportunity in the state in the person of Assemblyman David Valadao. Fresno City Councilman Blong Xiong will likely be the Democratic qualifier. Valadao is favored in November.

District 24 (Lois Capps-D) – The new redistricting plan created several very marginal districts, and this Santa Barbara-San Luis Obispo County district is one of them. Former lieutenant governor and state Sen. Abel Maldonado (R) will advance to the general election and oppose Rep. Capps. This will be one of the hottest congressional races in the country and is a pure toss-up.

District 26 (Elton Gallegly-R retiring: Open Seat) – The 26th is another very marginal district that both parties can win. Republicans will advance state Sen. Tony Strickland to the general election. The second position will be a fight between Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D) and Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks, a Republican who is running as an Independent.

District 29 (Open Seat) – This will be another double-Democrat general election and will heavily favor Los Angeles City Councilman Tony Cardenas to be the eventual winner.

District 30 (Brad Sherman-D/Howard Berman-D) – This likely double-Democrat general election will be the most expensive congressional race in the country as veteran Reps. Brad Sherman and Howard Berman must square-off for this one seat. Sherman represents 58 percent of this new constituency, while Berman has only 20 percent carry over from his current 28th CD. This will be a hard-fought and bitter general election battle.

District 31 (Gary Miller-R) – Rep. Miller’s move to the 31st District avoids a pairing with fellow Republican Rep. Ed Royce in new District 39. The vote tomorrow will determine which of three candidates qualifies for the general election: Miller, state Senate Minority Leader Bob Dutton, and Redlands Democratic Mayor Pete Aguilar. Miller represents no people in the new 31st and hopped over here when Rep. Jerry Lewis, a resident of this district, announced he would retire. This is one of the most interesting races in the entire state. A likely general election toss-up.

District 35 (Rep. Joe Baca-D) – Rep. Baca gives up District 31, which includes his home city of Rialto, to run against Democratic state Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod. Both will qualify for the general election and set up another double Democrat campaign. Baca represents 61 percent of the heavily Hispanic Ontario-based district. This could be a competitive November election, but no doubt a safe Democratic seat.

District 36 (Mary Bono Mack-R) – Rep. Bono Mack gets a CD fully contained within Riverside County and is two points more Republican than her previous district. She and emergency room physician Raul Ruiz and she are the only candidates who have filed, so both will advance to the general election regardless of tomorrow’s vote. Bono Mack is a big favorite in November.

District 41 (Open Seat) – The new Riverside County congressional seat is another of the marginal seats created in the 2011 redistricting plan. The two likely general election participants are Democrat Mark Takano, who has already lost three congressional races in this region, and Republican County Supervisor John Tavaglione. This will be a toss-up election in the fall.

District 44 (Janice Hahn-D/Laura Richardson-D) – Another of the incumbent pairings, this campaign will go to the general election featuring two Democratic Reps, Hahn and Richardson, in a heavily minority district. The real battle here begins on Wednesday morning.

District 47 (Open Seat) – Another new open seat has been created in the Long Beach area. State Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D) is likely to be a general election finalist. The second position could go to Republican Long Beach City Councilman Gary DeLong. Former representative Steve Kuykendall (R-CA-36) is in the race, but does not appear to have caught fire. Democrats are favored here in November, but the GOP does have an outside chance at scoring an upset.

District 51 (Bob Filner-D, running for San Diego mayor: Open Seat) – This will be yet another double-Democrat general election. Expect state Sen. Juan Vargas and former state Sen. Denise Moreno Ducheny to qualify for the general.

District 52 (Brian Bilbray-R) – This is another challenger race that could become serious in a district that is only a 40 percent carry over from Rep. Bilbray’s current CD. The congressman should finish first tomorrow night. The big question is will the second place finisher be Democrat Scott Peters, the San Diego Port Commission chairman, or former state assemblywoman Lori Saldana.

The Big June 5th Primary is Fast Approaching

Next Tuesday, six states go to the polls to nominate Senate and House candidates, and possibly recall a governor. On Monday, we’ll cover all of the hot California races. Today, we look at the other states voting on June 5.

Iowa: In a state promising to be a hotbed of presidential campaign activity in the general election, two, and possibly three, House seats will also be highly competitive. The contenders in Districts 3 and 4 are already set. District 3, anchored in Des Moines and Council Bluffs, will feature a general election incumbent pairing between veteran representatives Leonard Boswell (D-IA-3) and Tom Latham (R-IA-4). The new 3rd is very marginal, and this will be a close race. But Tuesday’s primary carries no drama for either man. To the northwest is new District 4, featuring Rep. Steve King (R-IA-5) defending his position against Christie Vilsack (D), the state’s former First Lady. The seat leans Republican, so King is favored, but, as in District 3, Tuesday’s vote is already well-defined.

In the southeastern 2nd District, Rep. David Loebsack (D) faces Davenport state Sen. Joe Seng. Loebsack should hold, but he loses his Cedar Rapids power base to District 1 and adds Davenport, a city he has not previously represented but one in which Seng has served in local government as well as the state legislature. The 2nd has the chance of becoming moderately competitive in the general election particularly if Seng pulls a big upset over the incumbent on Tuesday.

Montana: A gubernatorial primary is underway for the state’s at-large open seat. Attorney General Steve Bullock is the prohibitive favorite in the Democratic primary. Former Rep. Rick Hill (R-MT-AL) is attempting a political comeback in this race after being out of office for 12 years. The Senate competitors are already set: Sen. Jon Tester (D) and Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT-AL). In the open House race, former lieutenant governor nominee Steve Daines has the inside track to the Republican nomination, while the Democrats are in a battle among seven candidates led by state Sen. Kim Gillian and state Rep. Franke Wilmer.

New Jersey: The races here are quiet except for the 9th District Democratic pairing between representatives Steve Rothman (D-NJ-9) and Bill Pascrell (D-NJ-8). This race has been hotly contested for weeks and turned nasty on several occasions. Most believe Rothman has the slight advantage, particularly with official party endorsements in two of the district’s three counties. Pascrell needs a larger than normal turnout in Passaic County to snatch a close win. Surprisingly, the mayor of the district’s largest city, Paterson, has endorsed Rothman as has a member of the city council. These endorsements sting Pascrell because he was a former Paterson mayor before being elected to Congress. The representative does have former president Bill Clinton’s public support. A wild finish is guaranteed here.

New Mexico: In the Senate campaign, it appears that Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-NM-1) and ex-Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM-1) are headed for their respective party nominations. This will be a highly competitive general election. In Heinrich’s open House race, a tight Democratic primary is evolving. Polls show state Sen. Eric Griego and Bernalillo County commissioner and former congressional candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham to be in a virtual tie, with former Albuquerque mayor Martin Chavez trailing the duo. There is no run-off election in New Mexico, so this race will likely being decided on Tuesday by only a handful of votes. Republicans will nominate former state Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones. The eventual Democratic nominee has the inside track for the fall election.

South Dakota: Little in the way of contests are occurring in South Dakota. There is no Senate race this year, and freshman Rep. Kristi Noem (R) is positioning herself for a second term. For the Democrats, Minnehaha County Commissioner Jeff Barth and former congressional aide Matt Varilek vie for the right to challenge Noem. Though South Dakota does feature a run-off, the two-way race guarantees that Democratic voters will choose a nominee on Tuesday night. Noem will be a big favorite in the general election.

Wisconsin: Finally, the long-awaited recall election for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) will be decided next Tuesday. Momentum had been swinging Walker’s way and he still seems to have more energy behind his candidacy than does Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, his Democratic opponent. At least one survey, however, the Lake Research poll taken for the Democratic Party, shows the race to be a tie. All others give Walker a slight lead. The race will turn on the rate of voter participation and both sides are gearing up for a major effort. The result here could be a harbinger for the general election, certainly in Wisconsin, but possibly nationwide, too. Arguably, this race will have the greatest effect on national politics of any June 5 campaign.

The plethora of California congressional races will be covered in our Monday report.

Reyes’ Defeat in TX-16: An Analysis of How it Happened

Former El Paso City Councilman Robert “Beto” O’Rourke defeated eight-term veteran congressman Silvestre Reyes in the Texas Democratic primary on Tuesday night, yet he had only one-third of the incumbent’s campaign budget and spent a comparative fraction of his funds on electronic media.

While Reyes was running ads touting how much money he was bringing back to El Paso for various local projects and detailing negative attacks about O’Rourke that made him appear to be a Republican, the challenger emphasized more positive themes such as the economic opportunity that exists in the local US-Mexico border community. Driving home his optimistic themes, he simultaneously brought inconsistencies in Reyes’ record to light. While the incumbent was running a traditional media campaign, O’Rourke heavily targeted past primary voters and adeptly used the state’s early voting system. O’Rourke led the congressman 51-43 percent in votes cast prior to the May 29 Election Day. When the traditional ballots were added to these totals, O’Rourke’s victory percentage fell to 50-44 percent. This, in an election that featured a voter participation rate of well under 20 percent.

Considering that Reyes had four primary opponents, the worst projection for the incumbent assumed a resulting run-off election. The fact that O’Rourke not only exceeded Reyes’ vote total but still claimed an outright majority is quite a political feat, and his insurgent political tactics should be studied in greater detail.

Reyes becomes the third non-paired incumbent to lose in this primary season; representatives Jean Schmidt (R-OH-2) and Tim Holden (D-PA-17) are the other two. The 527 organization, Campaign for Primary Accountability, was active in all three of these races. Though O’Rourke advertised little in the media, the CPA spent about $100,000 on hard-hitting anti-Reyes television ads that clearly helped influence the outcome of the race. The Reyes defeat means there are now 59 open House seats in the current election cycle.

Dewhurst, Cruz in Run-off; Other Texas Results

The delayed Texas primary was finally held last night and featured a voter participation rate of approximately 20 percent. The vote was originally scheduled for March 6, but had to be twice postponed because of litigation over the state’s redistricting maps.

In the much-anticipated Republican Senate race, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who began the race as the prohibitive favorite, did in fact place first but fell about four points below the 50 percent threshold necessary to avoid a run-off election. Therefore, he and second-place finisher, former Texas solicitor general Ted Cruz, will square off in a July 31 secondary vote. Placing far behind these two were former Dallas mayor Tom Leppert and ESPN college football analyst Craig James. Leppert and James are eliminated from further competition.

Dewhurst was spending wildly at the end of the race in hopes of attaining the majority plateau in order to make an outright claim upon the nomination. Overall, the lieutenant governor’s primary spending will likely top $20 million, of which $12 million came from the candidate himself in the way of a loan. In contrast, Cruz only spent in the neighborhood of $5 million. Forcing Dewhurst into a run-off was Cruz’s only hope at winning the nomination, since it was never feasible he could top the lieutenant governor for first place. In a one-on-one battle where turnout will be even lower than in the primary leads to a political situation where anything can happen.

On the Democratic side, former state Rep. Paul Sadler and psychologist Grady Yarbrough will head for a second election. The winner becomes the sacrificial lamb to either Dewhurst or Cruz in the general election.

In the district congressional races, it appears, when all of the votes are finally counted and released, that eight-term veteran Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX-16) may have lost the Democratic nomination to former El Paso city councilman Beto O’Rourke. The challenger was hovering around the 51 percent mark, which will be enough to win the nomination outright. Late votes could force a run-off if both fall just below the majority mark. O’Rourke was supported by the Campaign for Primary Accountability, which concentrates on defeating long-term incumbents in both parties. This would be a major upset; Reyes will be the third non-paired incumbent to already lose in his or her own party primary.

In other congressional races, Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX-4), at 89 the oldest member of the House, stared down two GOP opponents to secure renomination. Hall garnered 59 percent against a pair of opponents. In the Dallas area, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX-6) easily avoided a run-off by scoring 64 percent of the vote against two opponents. Reps. Kenny Marchant (R-TX-24) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX-30) also easily avoided run-offs against opponents who originally appeared to have the wherewithal to organize credible campaigns.

All other incumbents easily won their nomination battles including freshman Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX-27) who was a surprise winner in 2010. Because redistricting added 46 percent new voters, most of whom are Republican oriented, Farenthold has a strong chance of keeping this seat the rest of the decade now that he is the bona-fide incumbent in this newly constructed seat. He scored an impressive 80 percent of the vote last night. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX-25), who redistricting placed in the new heavy Hispanic 35th District between Austin and San Antonio defeated two opponents with 71 percent of the vote. He will now go onto an easy re-election campaign in the fall.

In the open seat races, state Rep. Joaquin Castro, who was unopposed for the Democratic nomination in the San Antonio-based 20th District that retiring Rep. Charlie Gonzalez (D) is vacating, took one major step toward winning in the fall as he now becomes the official party standard bearer. He will easily win election in November.

In the new 14th CD, the seat presidential candidate Ron Paul is vacating, Republicans will feature a run-off election between state Rep. Randy Weber and Pearland City Councilwoman Felicia Harris. The winner faces former Rep. Nick Lampson (D) in what will be an interesting general election. The eventual Republican nominee should win here, but Lampson has proven strength in the Beaumont-Galveston area.

Turning to the four new seats that population growth awarded the state, former Secretary of State Roger Williams placed first in a field of 12 GOP candidates and will now face retired Army officer and Tea Party activist Wes Riddle. The winner of the 25th District Republican run-off, probably Williams, will claim the seat in November.

In the new Dallas-Ft. Worth-based 33rd District, as expected, former Dallas city councilman and state representative Domingo Garcia and ex-congressional aide (to then-Rep. Martin Frost, D-TX-24) Marc Veasey will also head to a secondary election, with the latter placing first by more than 10 points.

In the Brownsville area in South Texas, attorney Filemon Vela, the son of former US District Judge Filemon Vela, Sr. and Brownsville Mayor Blanca Sanchez Vela, placed first in the 34th District primary. He will face former Edinburg city manager Ramiro Garza. The run-off winner, very likely Vela, takes the seat in November.

In the new Republican 36th District, a three-way battle is still being finalized among financial advisor Stephen Takach, former US representative Steve Stockman, and state Sen. Mike Jackson. Takach seems poised to finish first. Because of the outstanding vote in Harris County, the only place Jackson showed real strength, he will probably edge the former congressman for second. The run-off winner claims the seat in November.

Turning to the state’s one strong general election challenger race, in the San Antonio-based 23rd District, former Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D-TX-23) who has won and lost two different House seats, is very close to capturing the outright majority that would clinch yet another party nomination for him. State Rep. Pete Gallego is second hovering in the mid-30s percentile, and he will either lose or barely qualify for a run-off when all ballots are finally counted. The new Democratic nominee will now face freshman Rep. Quico Canseco (R) in the general election. The 23rd is a tight district, so expect a highly competitive race in the fall.

Interesting Details in Arkansas and Kentucky

Presidential and congressional primaries were held in Arkansas and Kentucky last night without major surprises. As predicted, President Obama won two tepid victories in the pair of states, failing to break 60 percent in either place. He opposed an unknown Democratic candidate in Arkansas and was pitted against an uncommitted slate in Kentucky.

John Wolfe Jr., a Chattanooga, Tenn. attorney, scored 42 percent against Obama in the Arkansas Democrat primary. This is the strongest race Wolfe has run. Prior to entering the presidential contest, he twice ran for Congress, and once each for the offices of Tennessee state senator and mayor of Chattanooga. Prior to last night when facing the President of the United States, Wolfe never could top 34 percent in any of his multiple political endeavors.

In Kentucky, Obama also scored an anemic 58 percent of the vote. Here, 42 percent of the Blue Grass State’s Democrats chose an uncommitted slate of delegates to go the party’s national convention in Charlotte.

The results don’t mean much from a national perspective; only that the president will not be re-elected in a 50-state sweep. This is the second and third primaries where an alternative to Obama received substantial votes. West Virginia was the other state where that occurred. It is unlikely that the President will be competitive in any of these places in November, since better than four of six of his own party’s primary voters failed to support him.

In the KY-4 Republican congressional primary race (Rep. Geoff Davis-R, retiring), Lewis County Judge (county executive) and engineer Thomas Massie defeated state Rep. Alecia Webb-Edgington and Boone County Judge Gary Moore. The margin was 45-29-15 percent in what was a poor finish for Moore, who represented more people through his local office than did the other two. It is a boon for the Paul family because both Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX-14) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) endorsed the hard-charging winner. All three of the candidates were approaching financial parity. The Republican nature of the district means that Massie will be the new congressman. He faces Grant County Democratic Chairman Bill Adkins in the fall and what stands to be a non-competitive election.

The closest race of the evening was in Arkansas’ 1st Congressional District where Second Circuit Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington came within less than one point of winning the Democratic nomination outright. He will face state Rep. and Marvell ex-mayor Clark Hall in a June 12 secondary vote. The winner will oppose freshman Rep. Rick Crawford (R) in a newly configured 1st District that now has an even higher Democratic baseline than under the current lines, though President Obama could only score 39 percent under each version. This could become a competitive general election battle.

In the south-central 4th District, polling correctly suggested another outcome, as Afghan War veteran and businessman Tom Cotton, who raised more than $1 million for the primary campaign, won the Republican nomination outright with an impressive 57-37 percent win over 2010 congressional nominee and former Miss Arkansas Beth Anne Rankin.

Cotton must now wait until June 12 to see if he will face state Sen. Gene Jeffress or attorney Byrum Hurst, the latter of whom, as the underdog, made a very strong run for the top spot. At the end of the evening, Jeffress totaled 40 percent to Hurst’s 36 percent.

While the 1st District race could be headed to toss-up territory, Cotton figures to be the 4th District general election favorite. AR-4 is a Republican conversion seat because Rep. Mike Ross (D), a Blue Dog Coalition co-chairman, is retiring.