A lot will of diverse storylines will be written about Tuesday. Some will say the night was a boon for women (true), Democrats in general (meh) and bad for Republicans (ahaha). But, the truth of the matter is, the night was good for Republicans.
To find out why, look only at two states across the country from each other, California and New Jersey. Let’s start with California shall we?
Republicans were significantly worried about being shut out of BOTH of the top tier races in the massive state (Governor and Senate). While Republicans were expected to and did get shut out of the top two race in November for Senate they had a surprisingly strong showing in the race for Governor where Trump endorsed businessman John Cox easily secured the second slot for Governor.
While Democrats were not locked out of a single race they are optimistic about in California, the party had several favored candidates lose out to more progressive challengers and the total party vote lags far behind what one would expect of a looming wave election set to crest on the shores of Orange County and beyond.
In CA-25, Republican Steve Knight, considered the most vulnerable GOP incumbent in the state, managed to take 52.8 percent of the vote. His district favored Clinton by six points in November. In CA-45, Mimi Walters garnered almost 53 percent of the vote. Her district also favored Clinton. In CA-48, the vote totals between Republicans and Democrats were neck and neck. In the open CA-39, Republicans garnered far more votes than Democrats and Republicans in CA-10 garnered over a majority of the vote. In the reach CA-22 represented by Devin Nunes, the Congressman is sitting pretty good, garnering 58 percent of the vote.
The results suggest Democrats might flip a seat or two but hardly more than three seats. Republicans can breathe a sigh of relief that they have a candidate at the top of the ticket likely to excite the base and bring out more Republicans in the race for Governor leading to more support for Congressional and local candidates down ballot.
Across the country in New Jersey, Republican voters chose the most practical options. In NJ-5 the party faithful dissed the national party and chose a moderate businessman while in NJ-2 the party went for a honest (I can self-fund my campaign) candidate.
Trouble is also looming for Democrats in New Jersey. Incumbent Senator Bob Menendez, formerly under investigation for bribery and corruption charges, barely won 60 percent of his party’s vote against a unknown opponent. The charges against Bob were dropped by the government and he lucks out in facing a nobody GOP challenger but if 2002 is any indication the party might have to spend money to bolster him.
Heading back West to Montana, Matt Rosendale won a contested GOP primary. While probably a tad too libertarian for the state, Rosendale does have a national conservative following likely to throw money into the contest.
Finally, while Democrats won a state special election in suburban Kansas City under the shadow of Eric Greitens resignation, the party was far less fortunate in the Big C.
In California’s 29th Senate district, the GOP successfully recalled state senator Josh Newman. Newman was targeted by the GOP for supporting a gas tax hike and the state Democrats even moved the primary to the summer to help him. But this did not seem to matter. Newman was recalled by almost 20 points in a district he narrowly won in 2016 and includes parts of Orange, LA, and San Bernardino counties. Wave elections are not built on incumbents being recalled over unpopular policies in swing districts.
All in all, the night was good for Republicans and meh for Democrats. The party got the candidates they wanted in NJ, won a special election in a KC, Missouri suburban race but did not find much success in getting their preferred candidates or big vote margins in several CA contests. So much for wave setting primary day.