Primary recap: Winners include NRCC, losers include establishment Senate candidates

That said, many of them won by the skin of their teeth. And even though the NRCC got a candidate into the runoff in Rep. Larry Kissell’s (D-N.C.) district, a man the national party fears, Tim D’Annunzio, finished first in the primary.

But if you told the NRCC that they would get this result before the votes were counted yesterday, the committee probably would have taken it.

3. The underfunded

Decent performances from Marshall, Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner (D), and several other meagerly funded candidates shows that money isn’t everything in politics.

Marshall raised just $500,000 for her race, and Brunner raised less than $1 million for hers, despite starting in early 2009. Brunner was outspent more than three-to-one by Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher but still took 45 percent in their Senate primary.

Opponents of Reps. Larry Kissell (D-N.C.) and Heath Shuler (D-N.C.), meanwhile, took nearly 40 percent of the vote despite not even raising enough ($5,000) to file FEC reports. And in Ohio, former Ashland County Commissioner Matt Miller stayed within single digits of top GOP recruit Jim Renacci despite raising just $50,000.
 
Of course, none of these candidates actually won.

Losers

1. Establishment Senate candidates

Fisher, Cunningham and former Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) all came away from Tuesday looking like so-so candidates, at best.

Each got the desired result – victory for Coats and Fisher and a runoff for Cunningham – but none of them exceeded expectations, and considering the makeup of their races, 10-point wins for Coats and Fisher weren’t as big as their parties would have hoped. Coats faced little-known and meagerly funded opponents and took less than 40 percent, while Fisher’s 55-45 win underperformed late polling on the race.

2. Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.)

Yes, Burton won, but only because there were so many legitimate candidates running against him to split up the vote. When’s the last time an incumbent won his party’s nomination with less than 30 percent of the vote?

It was hardly a vote of confidence in the 14-term incumbent. The good news for the GOP and Burton is that he faces a token opponent in the general election.

3. Shuler and Kisssell

Both men established their independence with their votes against the healthcare bill, but did they alienate the base too much? Shuler and Kissell both ceded almost 40 percent of the vote to unknowns who essentially had no money.

Republicans hope to go after both seats in November, and if Shuler and Kissell are to return to Congress, they need at least some help from that base. If the base was willing to vote for nobodies rather than their Democratic congressmen, what does that say about how excited they will be to vote for them in November?