Blanche Lincoln in surprise win in Arkansas; GOP women triumph, too
Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, considered a vulnerable incumbent, moves on to the general election. GOP women prevail in primaries in California, South Carolina, and Nevada.
If there’s anything certain about this election cycle, it’s that nothing is certain.Skip to next paragraph
Pundits had all but written off two-term Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas in her tough Democratic primary runoff Tuesday against Lt. Gov. Bill Halter – with state insiders predicting a defeat by up to 10 percentage points. Such a loss would have fitted the prevailing narrative of anti-Washington, anti-incumbent anger that has already cost two senators – Arlen Specter (D) of Pennsylvania and Bob Bennett (R) of Utah – and two House members their jobs.
But Senator Lincoln defied election-eve polls and a furious onslaught from progressive groups like Moveon.org and major labor unions to beat Lieutenant Governor Halter, 52 to 47 percent. She had strong support from native son and former President Bill Clinton, who campaigned heavily for her and was featured prominently in her ads. Lincoln’s centrist positions – particularly her opposition to a “public option” in health-care reform – had alienated party liberals, while more conservative forces in the state have linked her to President Obama, who is not popular in Arkansas. Her surprise victory showed that polling for a low-turnout primary runoff can be notoriously unreliable.
In her victory speech Tuesday night, Lincoln sought to align herself with her home state in the eyes of voters.
"This election is not about special interests, this election is not about me, this election is about us," Lincoln said.
Lincoln now faces an even tougher battle against five-term Rep. John Boozman (R) in November, when anti-incumbent feeling – mostly against Democrats – is still expected to dominate. The latest Washington Post poll shows only 26 percent of Americans approve of Congress’s performance, a worse rating than in 1994, when the GOP took control of Congress for the first time in 40 years.
Former female CEOs for California's GOP
Lincoln’s victory did fit one larger story from Tuesday night: the dominance of women in the most closely watched races. California Republicans nominated two wealthy, female former CEOs – Meg Whitman of eBay and Carly Fiorina of Hewlett-Packard – to compete for the governorship and the Senate, respectively. These two victories set up marquee races for the fall, with Ms. Fiorina seeking to topple incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) and Ms. Whitman taking on former Gov. Edmund "Jerry" Brown Jr. (D).