May 9, 2018

Trump, Democrats both see success in first May primaries

President Trump giving a thumbs up. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump and the Republican Party scored big wins in all three Senate primaries last night: they avoided being stuck with the least electable guy in West Virginia, the "outsider" businessman won in Indiana, and Trump's pick came out on top in Ohio.

But, but, but: There were warning signs for Republicans elsewhere — in voter turnout, ideological fights and the defeat of Republican incumbents at the state and federal level.

The big things:

  • Democrats in West Virginia cast 159,891 votes compared to Republicans' 136,220 votes in the Senate primary. That enthusiasm gap isn't great for the GOP when they're trying to take a seat from one of the most vulnerable Democrats.
  • There was a similar enthusiasm gap in WV-03, the state's most pro-Trump district. Nearly 20,000 more Democratic votes were cast, and Patrick Morrisey, the Republican winner, didn't even get 25% of the vote.
  • Three incumbent Republican lawmakers were defeated in their bid for higher office. Rep. Evan Jenkins in West Virginia and Reps. Todd Rokita and Luke Messer in Indiana lost their bids to become their state's GOP nominee for Senate.
  • Incumbent Rep. Robert Pittenger lost his bid for re-election to a Republican challenger. The seat is now open, which significantly swings things in Democrats' favor — some estimate Republicans' advantage in the district has narrowed by eight points.
  • Ohio voters didn't advance the fiery, populist brand of politics that has emerged under Trump. Instead, they picked two relatively mainstream candidates for governor, sending home far-left and far-right candidates.

Another big winner for Democrats: EMILY's List. The pro-choice women's group endorsed three candidates — Liz Watson (IN-09), Kathy Manning (NC-13) and Betsy Rader (OH-14) — competing in last night's primaries. All three advanced to the general.

The bottom line: Democrats secured solid wins last night, but Republicans remained the Party of Trump — and that could bring POTUS out to campaign in many of these races ahead of November.

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