Primary voters in several states went to the polls on Tuesday, providing fresh clues about the electorate's leanings in run-up to November's midterm elections. Results in Colorado, Connecticut, Minnesota, and Georgia showed Republicans rallying behind insurgent candidates, with Democrats more willing to back the party establishment. (Watch a roundup of analysis about the Connecticut Senate race.) Here's how commentators read the key races:
1. The Democratic establishment strikes back in Colorado
In what may have been Tuesday's most closely watched race, Sen. Michael Bennet cruised to an unexpectedly comfortable 9-point victory over challenger Andrew Romanoff, a former state House speaker endorsed by former president Bill Clinton. This is a "big win" for the Democratic establishment, which backed Bennet, says Mark McKinnon in The Daily Beast. "Obama rolled the dice on his man and won decisively," and that ought to restore some confidence in his political operation. This was also a victory for civility, say the editors of The Denver Post. The race was tight until Romanoff released an ad accusing Bennet of being a "corporate looter," proving that voters are tired of "scorched-earth tactics."
2. Colorado Tea Partiers outflank the GOP leadership
On the Republican side of Colorado's Senate primary, grassroots candidate Ken Buck bested former lieutenant governor Jane Norton, the choice of the party establishment. Buck, a former prosecutor, campaigned on a call for the leaders of both the Republican and Democratic parties alike to change the way they operate. This is a "sign of the times," says Michelle Malkin at her blog. GOP leaders insisted their candidate was "more electable," but the Tea Party favorite won anyway. Buck's image as an unpolished outsider may have won over GOP voters, says John F. Harris in Politico, but Dems will have a field day with his remark, caught on tape, that voters should pick him over Norton because he didn't wear high heels.
3. Connecticut GOP primary not much of a wrestling match
The "marquee" race outside Colorado was the Constitution State's Republican Senate primary, in which former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon "cruised to victory" over former Rep. Rob Simmons and Tea Partier Peter Schiff, says Chris Good in The Atlantic. This sets up a tantalizing "showdown" in the general election, with McMahon — the quintessential GOP insurgent — facing off against Democrat Richard Blumenthal, the state's long-serving and popular attorney general. This will be one of 2010's classic battles, says Dan Balz in The Washington Post, as voters will be choosing not just between a Republican and a Democrat, but between an "outsider [and] a longtime insider."