Sanity prevails in primary elections

Sanity prevails in primary elections
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From the Midwest to West Virginia, sanity reigned in Tuesday’s primaries. Don Blankenship, an aspiring U.S. senator and former jailbird, got trounced by West Virginia Republicans, and over in Ohio, Dennis Kucinich went down in flames in his bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. For the moment, GOP still means “Grand Old Party,” not “Guys on Parole,” and the Democrats have resisted the siren song of the fringe. In other words, it was a boring evening.

Both parties seemed to have learned valuable lessons. The Republicans resisted the temptation of succumbing to defiance for its own sake and blatant bigotry, and rejected Blankenship’s claim to be “Trumpier” than the president. Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell: Trump 'on to something' with attacks on Dem congresswomen Dems open to killing filibuster in next Congress Senate passes bill making hacking voting systems a federal crime MORE, the Senate majority leader was beaming from ear-to-ear. Ultimately, Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreAlabama GOP senate candidate says 'homosexual activities' have ruined TV, country's moral core The Hill's Morning Report — Trump retreats on census citizenship question Alabama senator says Trump opposed to Sessions Senate bid MORE’s loss in Alabama became a cautionary tale of what to avoid in politics and life.

As for Ohio Democrats, with little prodding they internalized that being a governor means running an actual government, and not simply standing atop a soap box with a megaphone. As a congressman, Kucinich got the Iraq War right. However, as Cleveland’s mayor 40 years ago, Kucinich presided over a decline of a city, which is not exactly an advertisement for a higher office that depends on serious executive skills.

The primaries also shown a light on who and what the parties are about. For the Republicans, it’s about Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpAmash responds to 'Send her back' chants at Trump rally: 'This is how history's worst episodes begin' McConnell: Trump 'on to something' with attacks on Dem congresswomen Trump blasts 'corrupt' Puerto Rico's leaders amid political crisis MORE. In Ohio, Jim RenacciJames (Jim) B. RenacciMedicare for All won't deliver what Democrats promise GOP rep: If Mueller had found collusion, 'investigation would have wrapped up very quickly' House Ethics Committee extends probe into Renacci MORE emerged as his party’s standard bearer for governor. The secret of Renacci’s success? A Trump endorsement. Overall, the GOP primaries were populated by candidates who stumbled over themselves in pledging their fealty to the president. Said differently, “Never Trump” Republicans aren’t really much of a movement.

As a corollary, think of the Republican Party as a congregation of unruly Dissenters who when given the right opportunity will still stick it to the man. In Indiana’s GOP senate primary, Mike Braun, a businessman, defeated two incumbent congressmen to garner his party’s nod, walking away with 41 percent of the primary vote.

While Braun’s victory ranks as a personal accomplishment, it should also serve as a reminder that within GOP the words “incumbent congressman” are synonymous with swamp creature. Still, Braun is by no means out of the woods. He now has to solidify his hold over Hoosier Republicans after prevailing in demolition derby of a race and face incumbent Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyTrump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand GOP frets over nightmare scenario for Senate primaries McConnell's Democratic challenger McGrath backtracks on Kavanaugh comments MORE, a Democrat whose own approval rating is under 50 percent, yet he remains better liked by Indiana voters than Trump.

As for the Democrats, the #MeToo movement cannot be ignored. On the same day as Eric Schneiderman, New York’s disgraced attorney general called it quits after the media exposed him for being a physically abusive and potentially criminal drunk, 17 out of the 20 women who ran for the Democratic nomination for an open congressional seat won. In that very same vein, if the Democrats flip the House, don’t expect Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSally Yates: Moral fiber of US being 'shredded by unapologetic racism' Al Green calls for additional security for House members after Trump rally #IStandWithPresTrump trends in response to #IStandWithIlhan MORE to be going anywhere other than the Speaker’s chair. For the record, white men are a minority among congressional Democrats.

The Tuesday primaries offered a few other clues as to what may happen this coming November, most of all that Democrats benefit from an enthusiasm gap. In Ohio, three times as many 2016 Republican primary voters crossed over to vote in the 2018 Democratic primary, as did 2016 Democratic primary voters who crossed over to vote in the 2018 Republican primary. Beyond that, an analysis of the special elections and Federal Election Commission records over the past year reveal that Democratic candidates have been getting more bang for their campaign buck. In the age of Trump, the party of FDR and JFK won more votes for each dollar spent, not exactly music to Republican ears.

In the end, Election Day is six months away. While the president is loathed by many and disliked by most, the economy is humming along. Unemployment sits below 4 percent, and a majority of Americans say that the country is headed in the right direction. Yes, Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTop Republican considered Mueller subpoena to box in Democrats Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump MORE and Stormy Daniels should be taken literally and seriously. But it remains to be seen whether scandal alone will be enough for the Democrats to recapture the House or the Senate in November.

Lloyd Green was the opposition research counsel to the George H.W. Bush campaign in 1988 and later served in the U.S. Department of Justice. He is now the managing member of research and analytics firm Ospreylytics.