Cook: Random Observations About Tuesday’s Primary

by Michael Cook ([email protected]) 88 views 

Here are some random observations on Tuesday’s primary election results.

This year may have been the lowest voter turnout ever in a mid-term election.

As of this moment, it appears that 331,126 people voted in the Governor’s race in the Democratic and Republican primaries. The lowest mid-term in recent memory was in 2006 when 340,088 people voted.

More people voted in the Republican primary than the Democratic primary, but what is surprising is that the total numbers were so close. Only 25,512 more people pulled a Republican ballot than a Democratic ballot. While it was the first time ever that a Republican primary had more votes than a Democratic one, it’s not a tsunami that some folks predicted.

Also, as of this moment unofficial election results indicate Asa Hutchinson received just 1,046 more votes than Mike Ross.

Does less turnout in their primaries mean Democrats are in trouble for the fall? No. Primary turnout is not a good indicator of who wins in November.

For example, in 2010 190,700 more people voted in the Democratic primary than the Republican primary, but John Boozman crushed Blanche Lincoln that year and the GOP picked up two Congressional seats.

Big Picture
Overall, there weren’t many surprises in the election results.

Both Mike Ross and and Asa Hutchinson easily beat their respective opponents whose names I’ve already seemed to have forgotten.

French Hill and Bruce Westerman won their respective Congressional primaries as previous polling indicated they likely would. It did surprise me that Ann Clemmer and Conrad Reynolds lost their respective home counties of Saline and Faulkner.

As expected, Tim Griffin won his Lt. Governor primary without a run-off. Frankly, that primary was over the moment he announced. Andrea Lea won the State Auditor nomination as expected.

None of the lackluster Republican Attorney General candidates received a majority of the vote, which means for the next three weeks we’ll hear David Sterling and Leslie Rutledge drone on about guns, abortion, gays and Obamacare. In other words, they’ll make Rep. Nate Steel’s job easier to become the next Attorney General by their racing to the far-right.

A big surprise is Dennis Milligan’s defeat of Duncan Baird in the State Treasurer’s Republican primary. By all accounts, Baird would have been the stronger general election candidate, but Milligan was able to defeat Baird by using the latter’s vote for the Private Option against him. Look for a lot of Republicans to sit on their hands when it comes to helping out Milligan in November.

Supreme Court Race
The race between Court of Appeals Judge Robin Wynne and Little Rock attorney Tim Cullen received unusual attention late in the race when an outside group ran TV ads in support of Wynne and attacking Cullen.

Frankly, I believe Wynne was always going to win this race because he had the all-important title of “Judge” in front of his name on the ballot, which translates to victory about 90% of the time.

For example, this year only one candidate with “Judge” in front of their name lost to a candidate who didn’t have a similar title. And in that instance, Judge Amy Brazil, apparently took an improper campaign loan from her father and it became an issue in the race.

However, Wynne ran a very poor campaign overall and failed to adequately disavow or speak against the outside money attack on Cullen. In the end, Wynne got blamed for the ads even though he had nothing to do with them and that likely cost him votes. Ironically, the ads that were supposed to help Wynne might have ended up hurting him due to his failure to push back against them. It turned out what should have been a 10-point win for Wynne shrank to a four-point win.

Private Option
Two Republican Senators who previously supported the Private Option, Bill Sample and Missy Irvin, won their re-election bids. That’s not a fair description of Sen. Missy Irvin who has supported the Private Option before she opposed it, so who knows where she really stands?

Sen. Bruce Holland, who voted for the Private Option, lost to Rep. Terry Rice who opposes it. Rep. John Burris, an architect of the Private Option, is in a run-off for Johnny Key’s open State Senate seat.

It was a mixed-bag for Private Option supporters and opponents.

Personally, I believe the Private Option passes again in 2015, but I’ll explain why in a later story.

All in all, it was a fairly boring election night with no real surprises or drama. However, the General Election is going to be a whole different affair.