Really a fascinating set of primary elections this time around, with contests in Connecticut, Colorado, Minnesota, and a runoff in Georgia.
You'll want to follow Seth Masket for the latest in Colorado, where there are nail-biters on both sides for the Senate nominations, and a GOP smackdown for Governor. Uh...never mind that; words like that should of course be preserved for Connecticut, where Republican Linda McMahon is probably going to be nominated for Senate against on-again, off-again candidate Rob Simmons. Governors races, too, in CT and MN. And then in Georgia, the Republican runoff between Karen Handel and Nathan Deal, with Handel seemingly created by a Sarah Palin endorsement while Deal has been backed by Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich And then there are House and other races, which as usual we have less information about, but are important nevertheless.
Poll closing times, thanks as always to Taegan Goddard's terrific Political Wire, and all Eastern Time: GA 7PM, CT 8PM, CO 9PM, and MN...hey, he didn't list that one! Guess we're on our own.
I should say something about endorsements. You're going to hear a fair amount about them, with the Sage of Wasilla involved in several races, and with the split between Bill Clinton (Romanoff) and Barack Obama (Bennet) in CO Senate. Mostly, as these things always go, you're going to hear extremes -- either that these contests are proxy battles that measure the "real" strength of Palin vs. Huck, or Obama vs. Clinton; or, that endorsements just don't matter. The truth is in between. It's true that few voters will tell you that they voted simply because of an endorsement. It's also true that in general elections, other effects -- that is, party -- totally swamp endorsements. But in primaries, in which voters have little information and there is usually little to differentiate the candidates, endorsements can actually be extremely important. Of course, not all endorsements are alike. Some endorsements -- say, by unions in a Democratic primary, or by any pol with a large fundraising network who puts it to work for the candidate she supports -- can bring significant resources. That would include some endorsements which receive very little notice, but can make or break a candidacy. Others, like a Palin nod, can bring tremendous publicity, which is useful in itself because name recognition is important, but also because publicity brings other resources (that is, Handel probably raised money both from Palin fans trying to support a Palin-endorsed candidate, and from conservative activists who were just looking for a conservative candidate to back, and knew who Handel was thanks to the noise that Palin generated). On the other hand, some endorsements probably bring few resources and little publicity. In fact, good reporting could almost certainly dig up a lot of information. What we shouldn't do, however, is to frame a contest as nothing but a simple battle of celebrity endorsements. Without good reporting or careful study, it's hard to know what else is going on in a contest beyond the big-name headlines, so just calling for example a Deal victory a "win" for Newt (in the sense of Newt causing it) would be far too careless.
Meanwhile, I have a rooting interest tonight, for Michael Bennet (Wesleyan Class of 1987). Good luck to him, and to all the candidates and their supporters. Well, except for that weasel Andrew Romanoff and his crowd.