About those races that are none of our business…

As y’all know, I don’t hold with getting involved in other people’s elections. We’ve got enough to say grace over here in SC without worrying about whom other folks are electing in other states.

Besides, I think it’s beyond ridiculous to try to draw conclusions from afar, finding artificial intellectual constructs to impose upon those elections to draw conclusions about unrelated matters — such as the national mood, or what is likely to happen in races that are our business. Such as, a Republican wins a race in state X, and therefore the national electorate likes Republicans and woe unto Democrats everywhere. I happen to believe that people make up their minds for a host of complex reasons that can’t be fully divined even if you’re standing next to the voter at the time, much less from afar. And to draw a conclusion based on how 51 percent of the voters in some far-off place reacted to the very specific choice they had between two very specific candidates, when that result involved separate, independent decisions made by thousands of people you don’t even know, which means it involves millions of unknowable variables, is laughable. Or would be, if the oh-so-serious pronouncements that result weren’t so harmful to public understanding.

And yes, I DO struggle to analyze elections I AM following, and share my feeble reflections so that y’all can shoot at them and maybe, just maybe, that ferment will lead to some greater understanding for all of us going forward. But I am loathe to do it with races about which I know little that would not fit on a bumper sticker.

But since folks seem to love to discuss these things, rather than have y’all go off and discuss it at some unsavory blog where you might pick up some nasty social disease or something, I provide you with this safe environment to have your discussion.

Here’s a quick summary of what happened by a guy over at NPR, but I also provide these links to related stories in the NYT and the WSJ and The Washington Post:

The big news came in the Democratic contest for the Senate in Pennsylvania, where five-term incumbent Arlen Specter — who quit the GOP last year because he was not going to survive the primary — wound up losing anyway, despite the backing of President Obama, Gov. Ed Rendell and assorted party luminaries.  Specter, 80, was never able to convince his new party that he was one of them.  Much of the credit for that goes to a savvy media effort by his opponent, two-term Rep. Joe Sestak, who ran ads reminding Democrats that six years ago Specter was warmly endorsed by another president, George W. Bush, and that he spent years voting for Republican Supreme Court justices.  Those Democrats with longer memories still harbored anger over the way Specter questioned Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas court confirmation hearings back in 1991.

Sestak received 54 percent of the vote to Specter’s 46 percent, ending Specter’s long career in politics.  Specter, in conceding defeat, pledged to support Sestak in the general election….

If the Democratic Party establishment took it on the chin in the Keystone State, Republicans got the same message in Kentucky.  There, local powerhouse Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, muscled out two-term Sen. Jim Bunning (R) from a re-election bid and helped install Secretary of State Trey Grayson as his would-be successor.  But GOP voters weren’t buying, and instead gave first-time candidate and ophthamologist Rand Paul a smashing victory, telling McConnell and party leaders that the old way of doing things was no longer acceptable.  Even though Grayson was not the incumbent, he bore the brunt of the anti-establishment anger.  Paul, the son of Texas congressman and former presidential candidate Ron Paul, utilized his father’s sizable presence on the Web to make him financially competitive with Grayson….

The results were less definitive in Arkansas, but what happened there can’t be comforting to Sen. Blanche Lincoln, a two-term Democrat whose avowed centrism — in a state that gave Obama just 39 percent — didn’t go over well in the primary.  She managed 45 percent of the vote, to 43 percent for Lt. Gov. Bill Halter.  And because neither candidate received a majority — a third candidate, conservative businessman D.C. Morrison, pulled in about 13 percent — Lincoln and Halter continue their battle for three more weeks, in a June 8 primary runoff.

Have at it.

14 thoughts on “About those races that are none of our business…

  1. Doug Ross

    The anti-incumbent sentiment is hard to ignore. I think it reflects the general voter’s response to three specific events: health care reform, bank bailouts, and the crushing debt that was added to the deficit by the stimulus bill.

    Americans in general don’t trust the government to do the right thing and those three major events proved it.

    It also proved that obama cannot deliver votes. If unemployment is still near 10% in November, we will see a big turnover.

  2. bud

    You’re pretty much spot on here. We can’t glean too much from individual elections. But we can spot certain trends. It seems as though the Democrats are having pretty good success in the special congressional districts. Otherwise the Republicans seem to be doing better, especially candidates on the far right. Yet this could change by the fall. A zillion factors come into play the most imporatant of which is the national economy. Local issues of course will also have a bearing on what happens.

    Having said that it is fun to try and make predictions about the meaning of the various races. The 538 guy does a great job sorting through all this. Check out fivethirtyeight.com sometime if you want to get the best statistical evaluation about all the races.

  3. bud

    I disagree Doug. The public doesn’t give a damn about the national debt. All they care about is how large their tax bill is. Just suggest that it may be a good idea to tax billionares at a slightly higher rate at everyone will howl. Even those making very low incomes. Or just try to make a tiny change to social security like moving the benefits age back 6 months.

  4. j

    Bud, I look at 538.com frequently and he was the only one to call the Pres electoral vote exactly correct. I agree with your perspective.

  5. j

    I like Larry too, but it’s the demographic and statistical analysis that 538 gives that makes his perspective important.

  6. Steve Gordy

    I expect the Tea Party favorites to have lots of success this fall. What happens after that is anyone’s guess. Rand Paul will be in the Senate where he won’t have direct responsibility to do anything except be a gadfly. Those running for governorships (think Nikki Haley)will actually have to pick up their job responsibilities if they win. That’s when the real fun starts . . .

  7. Steve Gordy

    Another interesting thought about Rand Paul’s nomination: If he’s elected in November, Jim Demint better look out. Rand Paul will be challenging him for leadership of the Tea Party wing in the Senate.

  8. Kathryn Fenner

    Joe Wilson is not my Congressman, but when he rudely shoots his mouth off, *all* people in South Carolina are tarnished.

    If national Democrats go too far afield leftwardly (not that they have imho), South Carolina Democrats lose out, too.

  9. Bart

    Republicans will pick up some seats, not the astounding number touted by a few in their camp. It just won’t happen that way. Voters will stay with familiar faces unless they are intolerable or they are surrounded by the stink of a scandal.

    As each day passes, I am more and more convinced our government at all levels, local, state, and national is about as incompetent as it has ever been or at least, in my lifetime.

  10. bud

    Incompetent maybe. But the Newt Gingrinch era was characterized by pure evil. Here’s a few quotes from this vile human being touting his latest book.

    This week, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich released his latest book, To Save America: Stopping Obama’s Secular-Socialist Machine, in which he argues that “the Left” threatens to cause “the United States as we know it” to “cease to exist.” “The secular-socialist machine” — previously defined by Gingrich as “the Obama-Pelosi-Reid team” — “represents as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did,” he writes.

  11. Bart


    Did you read Cohen’s column today? I don’t think anything Newt has to say is relevant anymore, or at least as far as I am concerned.

    But, he is correct on his take that the United States as we know it has started on the path to “ceasing to exist” as we once knew it. Changes in world opinions of America, changes in prestige, changes in economic power, changes in military strength. All contributing to a different America for our children and grandchildren.

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