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Top 4 Senate Campaign Storylines at Midsummer

As the weather heats up, so do this year's top Senate races. (For complete 2014 midterm coverage, get your campaign fix on The Grid.)

by
Scott Elliott

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July 18, 2014 - 12:00 am
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Four months from now, we’ll be looking back on Election 2014 evaluating the votes and how they were cast.  Will Republicans succeed in their quest to gain the majority in the Senate, or will Democrats weather the six-year itch and retain control?  With primary season taking a month-long break, it seems a good time to pause and look back on how the election season has progressed so far.  There have been plenty of intriguing storylines surrounding the 36 Senate races on tap this year.   Here are four that have caught my attention.

Tea Party influence in Senate races comes up short

A popular theme all year has been the numerous failures of the Tea Party movement.  Media outlets have been quick to herald the disappointments as an indication of Tea Party decline. Some conservatives, however, like to point to certain situations where this is simply not true.  They say that narrative is just wishful thinking by a liberal media hoping to temper the Tea Party’s effect and hasten, if possible, its demise.

They point to Eric Cantor’s primary defeat to unknown Tea Party challenger Dave Brat last month as evidence of the earth-shaking punch the Tea Party still packs. To be sure, Cantor’s loss rocked the electoral landscape – and the GOP leadership – but as PJ Media’s David Steinberg pointed out, the shocking result came about through a perfect storm of many circumstances, only one of which was Brat’s Tea Party backing.

While House primary elections have produced Tea Party successes, and, fundamentally, the Tea Party continues to change “the dynamic of Republican politics,” the fact that several Senate primaries have been disappointing to Tea Party enthusiasts is undeniable.  And the list is not short:  Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, Thad Cochran in Mississippi, Thom Tillis in North Carolina, Lindsey Graham in South Carolina, even John Cornyn in Texas.  All won the GOP nomination in races where the Tea Party had high hopes going into the 2014 election season.  In North and South Carolina, efforts to nominate a Tea Party candidate couldn’t even force a runoff against the establishment favorite.

Terri Land’s fast start fizzles in Michigan

Democrats have dominated Senate elections in Michigan since current Senator Debbie Stabenow unseated Republican Spencer Abraham in 2000.  Between 2002 and 2012, she and senior Michigan Senator Carl Levin never won reelection by less than 15 points.  So when Public Policy Polling released a poll back in December giving Republican Terri Land a two-point lead in the race to replace Levin, Republicans cheered the prospect of a competitive race in a state void of GOP Senate election success so far this century.

Polling early this year did nothing to quench Republican excitement.  Six of the first eight polls of 2014 put Land ahead of the Democratic nominee, Congressman Gary Peters.  Until April, this race clearly leaned in the GOP’s direction and represented an unexpected pickup opportunity that threatened to make Democrats’ task of holding the Senate in a difficult year that much more challenging.

But the arrival of spring ushered in Peters’ striking resurgence.  All seven polls released since mid-April give him leads ranging from 3 to 9 points.  As a result, Election Projection projects Peters will triumph with a 5.6% margin of victory.  That doesn’t mean he’s a lock to follow outgoing Senator Levin and keep this seat in Democratic hands – Land, a former Michigan secretary of state, is a legitimate contender.  But what looked early on like a very promising Republican surprise has taken on the characteristics of a hard-fought Democratic hold.

Top Rated Comments   
I love how some people refer to the travesty in MS as "disappointing" to the Tea Party. As if the TP candidate was roundly rejected by main stream republican voters. What a whitewash. Cochran lost soundly amongst actual republicans. If not for his literal purchase of democrat votes and race baiting tactics paid for by his ruling class allies, he'd be on his way to retirement right now.
1 week ago
1 week ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (24)
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Why does anyone claiming to be "conservative" even talk about "the Tea Party" as if it existed, instead of breaking into uncontrollable laughter?

"The Tea Party" was a cute name for the disorganized, spontaneous, grass-roots citizen voter revolt of 2010, but that was four years ago. The "Tea Party" never organized as a genuine party, never codified principles, never created a mechanism for vetting candidates---so it became a name that has been appropriated by right-leaning hucksters to mulct contributions from the credulous, and a name that is invoked by rabble-rousing Democrats and their Leftist media allies to scare their base---booga! booga!---and slag conservatives.

"Tea Party" has been the flag under which any number of incompetent, wacko, and false-flag candidates have run. How many of Lindsey Graham's primary opponents (were there six? eight?) claimed on their own say-so to be "Tea Party"---and how many of them were bankrolled by Graham with Democrat and Establishment Republican money to split the opposition vote? National "Tea Party" organizations, according to Ann Coulter, gave no significant money to Brat's campaign which upset Eric Cantor; how many of them are merely political chameleon organizations which have assumed the popular coloration of the moment because they have a sense that people hungry for significant changes in the government will be easy marks?

As far as I can see, any "conservative" yapping about "the Tea Party" as if it had any actual existence is more or less equivalent to an old hippie yearning after Woodstock, seeking to recapture that unreproducible Magic Moment.
1 week ago
1 week ago Link To Comment
Nobody who sympathizes with the movement, sees it as an actual party or anything of the sort. It's a belief system and a way of life. That's why it will never be defeated. It's just a large group of us who actually believe in founding principles, and we raise our kids to believe them too. We believe in the literal planks of the gop's own official platform. We will hold our gop leadership to those promises. That's where the friction comes into play. Officialdom of the republican party doesn't actually believe in the things they promise us in order to buy our votes. We've caught on to that, and will no longer stand for it. Good luck winning without us.
1 week ago
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A "belief system and a way of life" is pretty words, but it doesn't translate into the political muscle that needs to be exercised to bring about the reforms your "belief system" claims to desire. And since it doesn't, one has to first marvel that supposedly practical-minded people who adhere to this "belief system" resolutely refuse to see that, and then---once the marveling is over---suspect that they are more into congratulating themselves on their moral purity, much as the more obnoxious Leftists do, than they are interested in actually effecting any of the changes their "belief system" mandates.

That latter, unfavorable, impression is confirmed with great strength by your final line, "Good luck winning without us." This is the voice of Achilles sulking in his tent; the voice which says, "Well, if you want me to participate, I will participate in none of the necessary organization---I will merely refuse to participate if you fail to meet my never-enunciated principles." It is the voice of the barnyard animals who refuse to help the Little Red Hen grow and harvest the wheat, but demand to share in the bread.

Who needs another bunch of sulky, balky spoilers who will stay home if they are not placated but are committed to no practical organization? We already have the Libertarians.
1 week ago
1 week ago Link To Comment
The establishment had its chance under Bush 43. They had "two halves of two thirds" of the federal government. Instead of living up to the platform they promised, federal intrusion into our daily lives expanded, debt ballooned, unfunded liabilities exploded and more. What did all this "political muscle" do for us when we had it? Nothing. We learned a hard lesson in what the gop is really all about. Therefore, the only conclusion we are left with is to purge all those who have been lying to us all these years. If our guy doesn't win in the primary, so be it. If the choice comes down to a marxist democrat vs a big government republican, the stance becomes perfect ambivalence. You can call us all the names you wish, denigrate us, and pitch YOUR little temper tantrums if you want to. Help yourself, if it makes you feel better. Meanwhile the purge will continue. No matter how long it takes.
1 week ago
1 week ago Link To Comment
P.S., if all these beliefs don't mean anything to you, then change the platform. Lay it out there for everyone to see. Then these little misunderstandings won't be an issue.
1 week ago
1 week ago Link To Comment
I hope to God you are a false-flag Leftist pretending to be a "Tea Party" person---though probably most of the "Tea Party" people are false-flag Leftists now, if one is to judge by the way they ensure that the establishment candidates remain in office.

Doing you the wholly-unmerited honor of presuming that you actually wish to shrink the size of government, and return it to something more or less akin to first principles, I'd have to say that your sulky, truculent, and mulish posts offer a textbook course in how to ensure that this will never happen.

Thank you for proving my point---that the "Tea Party" is either Democrat booga-booga, or muddle-headed hippie nostalgia.
1 week ago
1 week ago Link To Comment
Again, more name calling and personal insults. Way to win friends and influence people. And you people say that TP'ers have no political skills.

You insult me for blind adherence to my principles, but display an equally blind adherence to your gop masters.
1 week ago
1 week ago Link To Comment
Apparently, it hurts children when it is observed that they are acting childishly.

"Tea Party" people like you want to have veto power over the operation of party politics without the nasty necessity of soiling your hands with them. This is wanking, not "principle"---and it demeans the concept of "principle" for you to try and pass it off as anything other than petulant posturing.

You, and all the fraudulent "principled" types like yourself, are ensuring that the Leftist takeover of the US will be cemented without anything approaching an intelligent or effective opposition. Thanks a lot.
1 week ago
1 week ago Link To Comment
Keep up the insults. I'm almost- just about - getting there - converting to your side - oh, wait. Nope. You do nothing but confirm my opinion of party PURISTS. If we're so inconsequential, why are we even having this conversation? You should have nothing to worry about. Right?
1 week ago
1 week ago Link To Comment
Again, you take unpleasant home truths for "insults." You have a thinner political skin than Barack Obama---and his makes gold leaf look like armor plate.

Why are we having a discussion, if the "Tea Party" is an illusion? Because many people, whether they like it or not, are still fooled by the media into thinking the "Tea Party" exists; they listen to Democrats.

But there is no "Tea Party": it has no unified principles, it can command no funding, it has no organization, it can guarantee no votes---as you yourself have abundantly demonstrated here. The "Tea Party" was a quaint way for Middle America to spend the summer of 2010. Now it is just Woodstock---a beautiful moment gone forever.
1 week ago
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Yeah, that's what Cantor thought.
1 week ago
1 week ago Link To Comment
Thank you for mentioning Cantor, yet again; as Ann Coulter recorded, the so-called "Tea Party" groups---the big, national, blowhard ones---barely gave Brat a dime.

It was a local revolt against Cantor's disconnectedness; the "Tea Party," as a national movement of any coherence or strength, is a complete and total illusion sustained by Democrats.
1 week ago
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OK, fine. Again, why are you so worked up? You win. We're irrelevant. I should think you'd be happy about that. Why are you so angry and hysterical about a group of people who are no threat? You come off kind of obsessive.
1 week ago
1 week ago Link To Comment
"Worked up?" I? Hell, no; it is you who has gotten his panties in a twist, merely because I observed the obvious fact that the "Tea Party" does not exist.

You have yet to prove it does; you are very huffy and puffy, but you've basically admitted that there is no "Tea Party"---merely a bunch of malcontents like you with no organization, no central unifying principles, no ability to reliably deliver a vote bloc, no interest in dealing with the reality of party politics---and, therefore, nothing which actually does exist as any sort of reliable force, and certainly not a national one.

But you can gaze into your lava lamp and fantasize all you want.
1 week ago
1 week ago Link To Comment
So angry. You should really see someone. This is fun.
1 week ago
1 week ago Link To Comment
You have an odd definition of "anger," since it is you who is threatening to go sulk in your tent.
1 week ago
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I love how some people refer to the travesty in MS as "disappointing" to the Tea Party. As if the TP candidate was roundly rejected by main stream republican voters. What a whitewash. Cochran lost soundly amongst actual republicans. If not for his literal purchase of democrat votes and race baiting tactics paid for by his ruling class allies, he'd be on his way to retirement right now.
1 week ago
1 week ago Link To Comment
The race baiting was done by the TPers, inclding pjmedia's own J. Scott Adams who put togehther a campaign to challenge any and all Dem voters (which in MS are largely black voters) in a state that featured hundreds of years of oppression and suppression of black civil rights inluding the right to vote. That was documented amply here on pjmedia.com - I commented on Adams' post where he bragged about their efforts that the only possible outcome of such a race-based voter suppression effort would be to make all Republlicans look bad.

As to the contest itself - the rules are the same for both candidates, either was eligible to attract non-GOP voters and had ample opportunity. Since the state does not track voters by party affiliation or race, there is no way to substantiate the oft-repeated claims that the winner only won with black Dem votes ... there is zero way to substantiate who voted for whom, and there were no polls taken in the precincts.

Sour grapes for McDaniel and the TPers. They may or may not actually challenge the vote legally, but there is virtually zero chance of overturning the election, and at this late date, continued efforts to challenge the results only helps the Dems. But that is typical of TPers, who coudn't care less about defeating Dems as long as they get their licks in on Republicans.
1 week ago
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Wrong. Illegal in MS to vote in both D and R primaries. This is what they were screening for. Should black people be allowed to vote twice in the general? I expect that in an election cycle or two it will be called 'voter suppression' to challenge even that.
1 week ago
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Correction - that would be J. Christian Adams who bragged of stopping black voters from crossing over to vote for Cochrane.
1 week ago
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Hell's bells, EVEN NRO has a column up today about the establishment's race baiting in the Cochran campaign. You really need to open your eyes. Either that, or just keep collecting your paycheck from ole' Debbie Shultz.
1 week ago
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You are delusional. Uncle Mitchey's got some kool aid for you.
1 week ago
1 week ago Link To Comment
Go back and find the J. Christian Adams posts here on pjmedia.com where he bragged of his working with MS TPers to suppress crossover votes. He wrote it, not me.

The delusional ones are the TPers who think that such tactics have any place in American politics - they don't.
1 week ago
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Of course republicans should want to suppress crossover votes!! That prevents DEMOCRATS from choosing our candidates in primaries for Pete's sake. Suppressing crossover votes though is a far, far cry from anything to do with race, which was your first accusation of Mr Adams. Nice try.
1 week ago
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