Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Analysis: Vote results defy single explanation

WASHINGTON — She should have seen this coming.

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska is on the verge of becoming the seventh member of Congress ousted in a primary this year — caught in a swirl of political forces combining national angst about Washington with local issues and personalities that are defying conventional wisdom.

With almost all the votes counted, Murkowski trailed Republican primary challenger Joe Miller by 1,960 votes out of nearly 90,000 cast. She was hoping for a tide of support in absentee ballots to overcome the surprising lead amassed by Miller, a "tea party"-backed challenger who had the support of former Gov. Sarah Palin.

Murkowski would be the fourth Republican denied nomination for another term this year.

Anger at incumbents and political insiders isn't universal, however. One top incumbent managed to survive a primary challenge Tuesday — Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona easily defeated former Rep. J.D. Hayworth.

Local campaigns, issues, money and personality have had a huge impact, clouding any effort to draw clear national-trend conclusions from disparate races.

The Alaska race, for example, was colored by a long clash between Palin and the Murkowski family. In addition, a ballot referendum to require parental notification for teen abortions helped draw out tea party backers who favored Miller.

The Republican gubernatorial primary in Florida included a torrent of ads from free-spending millionaire Rick Scott that helped him defeat political veteran Bill McCollum. However, the state's Democratic Senate primary went the other way, when free-spending millionaire Jeff Greene was unable to defeat Rep. Kendrick Meek, the party establishment's choice.

What that means is that Tuesday's primary results don't add up to much of a theme that can foretell general election results in November, despite widespread efforts by pundits to find one.

"Every time we try to generalize from one of these elections, we fall flat on our faces," said independent analyst Norm Ornstein, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington.

"Is it an anti-incumbent message? If you want to combine 100,000 voters in Alaska with a small number in Utah, maybe so," he said, referring to the defeat earlier this year of Republican Sen. Robert Bennett of Utah.

"Can you say that millionaires can buy elections? With Rick Scott, you could say yes. With Jeff Greene, you'd have to say no. The one thing I would draw from this: There is a lot of anger out there, but we didn't need the primary elections to tell us that."

Independent analyst Stuart Rothenberg agreed.

"There is an undercurrent of anger, and it's aimed at politics in Washington," said the editor of the Rothenberg Political Report. "It's particularly located on the right side of the spectrum and among most conservative voters."

In Alaska, Miller challenged Murkowski as not conservative enough.

Murkowski voted for the Troubled Asset Relief Program — the bank bailout — and has supported abortion rights.

Miller was backed by tea party activists, whose support apparently came in under the radar in the final days, after polls just weeks ago showed Murkowski with a large lead.

A key element in Alaska — Murkowski chose not to use her much larger cache of campaign cash to attack Miller.

In Arizona, McCain didn't make that mistake.

McCain campaigned hard, and flooded the airwaves with TV ads early slamming Hayworth.

As of Aug. 4, he had outspent Hayworth $8.9 million to $2.6 million, according to the Federal Election Commission.

Analysis: Vote results defy single explanation 08/25/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 25, 2010 10:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Iraqi forces sweep into Kirkuk, checking Kurdish independence drive

    World

    KIRKUK, Iraq — After weeks of threats and posturing, the Iraqi government began a military assault Monday to curb the independence drive by the nation's Kurdish minority, wresting oil fields and a contested city from separatists pushing to break away from Iraq.

    Iraqi security forces patrol Monday in Tuz Khormato, about 45 miles south of Kirkuk, a disputed city that the government seized in response to last month’s Kurdish vote for independence.
  2. Trump and McConnell strive for unity amid rising tensions

    National

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, tried to convey a sense of harmony Monday after months of private feuding that threatened to undermine their party's legislative push in the coming weeks to enact a sweeping tax cut.

    President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell field questions Monday in the Rose Garden of the White House. “We have been friends for a long time,” Trump said.
  3. 'Me too': Alyssa Milano urged assault victims to tweet in solidarity. The response was massive.

    Human Interest

    Actor Alyssa Milano took to Twitter on Sunday with an idea, suggested by a friend, she said.

    Within hours of Alyssa Milano’s tweet, tweets with the words “me too” began appearing. By 3 a.m. Monday, almost 200,000 metoo tweets were published by Twitter’s count.
  4. Tampa tax shelter schemer too fat for his prison term, attorney says

    Criminal

    TAMPA — A federal judge sentenced two Bay area men to prison terms last week for peddling an offshore tax shelter scheme that cost the IRS an estimated $10 million.

    Duane Crithfield and Stephen Donaldson Sr. were sentenced to prison after marketing a fraudulent offshore tax strategy known as a "Business Protection Plan" to medical practices, offering doctors and others coverage against unlikely events such as a kidnapping.

  5. Weinstein Co., overwhelmed by backlash, may be up for sale

    Corporate

    NEW YORK — The Weinstein Co., besieged by sexual harassment allegations against its namesake and co-founder, may be putting itself up for sale.

    Weinstein