Arlen Specter loses, Rand Paul wins big, Blanche Lincoln in runoff, Democrats Tim Holden Larry Kissell Heath Shuler voted against health care, Fared well

Arlen Specter loses, Rand Paul wins big, Blanche Lincoln in runoff

From the Washington Post May 19, 2010.

“How (and why) Arlen Specter lost”

“1. Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter’s defeat at the hands of upstart Rep. Joe Sestak made him the second Senate incumbent to lose an intraparty battle in the 2010 elections — the largest number since four incumbents fell in 1980.

Specter’s loss will be endlessly examined (and then re-examined) in the days to come but, at its root, there were two main factors to blame for it: the perils of party switching and an anti-incumbent national environment.

Party switchers almost uniformly struggle the first time they are on the ballot after the switch. The party they abandoned detests them and will do anything to try to bring about their demise while the party they joined is distrustful of both their motives and loyalties.

Specter never seemed to adequately explain to Democrats why he switched parties — beyond the fact that it would allow him to be re-elected. Sestak, in what is the early frontrunner for ad of the year, brilliantly exploited Specter’s seeming lack of principle on the switch with a commercial that said the incumbent’s party switch was designed to “save one job…his…not yours.”

Specter’s inability to articulate why he had decided to go from “R” to “D” after spending nearly three decades on the GOP side was compounded by a strong sentiment among voters that the people they have been sending to Washington aren’t getting the job done and a course correction is required.

Specter, 80 years old and having spent five terms in the Senate, was a living and breathing embodiment of the traits that voters across the country seem fed up with these days. Sestak, again, brilliantly played to voters’ resentments about politics-as-usual — casting himself as a part of a “new generation” of leadership who could bring about real change.

While Specter’s defeat is somewhat unique due to his party switch, the loss will have considerable implications on how incumbents — in both parties — run their races moving forward this fall. Running with the establishment is clearly out; outsider messages are, ironically, in.”

3. Ophthalmologist Rand Paul’s (R) victory in Kentucky and Lt. Governor Bill Halter’s (D) pushing of Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D) to a June 8 “runoff didn’t come as big surprises. More telling than the head-to-head battles in each state, however, is what the ballots cast reveal about voter intensity this cycle.

Paul’s win wasn’t just big — it was massive. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Paul won with 59 percent of the vote, 24 points ahead of Secretary of State Trey Grayson (R). Over 350,000 voters took part in the GOP primary — all of them registered Republicans, given the state’s closed primary system. As Post pollster Jon Cohen notes, that’s the highest GOP primary turnout in at least twenty years with about one-third of registered Republicans casting ballots.”

“* Rep. Tim Holden, who voted against the party’s health care bill, won 66 percent to 34 percent against Sheila Dow Ford, an unknown and underfunded candidate. Holden joins Reps. Larry Kissell (D-N.C.) and Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) as Members who voted against health care and experienced similar primary results.”

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