No-Drama Election Night

Unless you get pretty far down-ballot, last night’s ballot-counting was notable for a complete lack of drama. Richard Lugar’s demise was obvious from the first returns showing him running poorly even in Indianapolis, and he wound up losing to Richard Mourdock by more than twenty points (61-39), which is pretty amazing for a six-term incumbent who has generally been firmly in his party’s ideological mainstream.

In North Carolina, the passage of Amendment One, which not only banned same-sex marriage but sruck down legal protections for all kinds of domestic partnership arrangements, was no surprise. But the margin was: 61 for, 39 against. This will undoubtedly embolden marriage equality opponents, who haven’t gotten a lot of good news lately. Expect a lot of talk in coming days about the impact of ballot initiatives like Amendment One in turnout mobilization efforts by both parties.

In the North Carolina gubernatorial primaries, again, the expected occurred: Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton defeated former congressman Bobby Etheridge for the Democratic nomination by a 46-38 margin, easily overcoming the 40% threshold for victory without a runoff. He will face the 2008 GOP nominee, former Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory, who brushed aside minor opposition. McCrory begins as the front-runner, but both national parties will likely target the state so long as Obama looks competitive there.

And in Wisconsin’s Democratic primary to choose a recall opponent for Scott Walker, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett easily defeated former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk by a 58-34 margin, despite Falk’s heavy labor support. Barrett and Falk are holding a “unity event” today, and despite public-sector union issues with Barrett, Democrats should have little trouble pulling together in the drive to topple Walker–who has a vast warchest, mostly from out-of-state conservatives–on June 5.

UPDATE: As you may have heard, Lugar’s election-night concession speech was the usual “good luck to our team in the next round of the playoffs” kind of speech that implicitly endorsed Mourdock. But the prepared statement his campaign released soon afterwards was a teeth-clenched attack on “rigid partisanship” that did not include an endorsement. The Evansville Courier & Press conveniently published the two Lugar statements back-to-back.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.