Now that most of the dust has settled we can look at the results of various Tuesday primary races and garner lessons. The biggest one seems a constant for 2022: Trump is strong, but not invincible.
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Trump’s potential 2024 primary opponents will take note of his current success and vulnerability and act accordingly. Which means that Larry Hogan and Nikki Haley will be slightly encouraged if they decide to throw their hats in the ring and challenge Trump, if he runs, for the 2020 Republican presidential nomination. Let’s look at the primaries in PA and NC and draw the salient conclusions.
Result and Lesson 1: The PA Senate primary- I initially called it weeks ago for Oz, thinking Trump’s endorsement would work for him as it worked for Vance in Ohio. But due to hopeful thinking against Trump and the last minute boomlet for Barnette, I switched my call. Dumb move, as she came in third and about 70 percent of PA Republicans voted against her. Oz and McCormick will go to a recount and Barnette is out of the money. I should have ignored the press momentum for Barnette and stuck with hard empirical evidence. Trump’s endorsement, especially in a crowded field, helps a lot.
The same was true of the PA GOP gubernatorial primary. Doug Mastriano swept to victory. But PA is a purple state and thus can a deep MAGA candidate win in the fall? Mastriano will find out, perhaps to his chagrin.
2) Cawthorn- The troublesome young MAGA acolyte lost soundly in his NC House primary, though endorsed by Trump. But there are some things that an endorsement by anyone can’t overcome. And that is a candidate so irresponsible and snakebit he was doomed to failure. It was also more of a one on one than the PA races. So an endorsed Trump clone can be knocked off under certain circumstances.
Also in NC Ted Budd won the GOP Senate primary over a former governor. A solid win and he had Trump’s nod. No surprise there, as NC is a red state. But in purple and blue states a Trump endorsement could be a liability in November.
3) Voter turnout- Massive. If PA and NC are any indications, voters are engaged big time in this election year. 730,857 Republican voters cast ballots in the 2018 PA midterm primary. On Tuesday 1,222,795 PA Republican voters turned out. In NC there were 146,000 more votes cast in the Republican primary than in the Democrat primary. This and other turnout numbers indicate a Republican tide in November.
“In every state where I’ve been measuring turnout changes relative to previous midterms, I’m seeing a clear advantage on the Republican side,” JMC Analytics founder John Couvillon told The New York Post. The current information suggests “states that are swinging and are Republican are going to move far to the right.” Combine that with Trump’s generally good showing so far in the endorsement primaries and the 2024 fog is starting to clear. Here endeth the lesson.