Election 2024: Tuesday Stupor

Last year I changed my voter registration from Illinois to Minnesota, and back in November I cast my first ballot up here, in a local election.

Yesterday afternoon I’m driving my daughter home from school when I notice a “VOTE HERE” sign outside a local church. And that is, literally, the very first time it had occurred to me that Minnesota is a Super Tuesday state and this was the primary election day.

Here I am, somebody who cares enough about politics to make time out of his busy life to blog about the upcoming election, and I had no idea that it was election day in my state until three hours before polls closed! That’s embarrassing.

But at the same time, kind of understandable. If I had gone to the polls yesterday, what would that have accomplished? There was no primary competition on the Democratic side for either my House seat (Craig) or the Senate (Klobuchar). I suppose I could have racked my brain over whether to vote for Biden, for “uncommitted”, or for renegade Minnesota Representative Dean Phillips in the presidential primary, but to what end? So, both my wife and I sat this Super Tuesday out. November, obviously, will be a different matter.

More globally, Super Tuesday marked the end of the Haley campaign; she officially suspended her bid this morning. She did manage to win a single state, though: that Republican hotbed of Vermont, 50-46. (Over the weekend she had won her first primary contest in another Republican hotbed, the District of Columbia.) I heard at one point last night that, across all states yesterday, she was only attracting something like 25% of the vote. In Texas, for instance, she lost 78-17.

The race I was most interested in yesterday was the jungle primary for an open Senate seat in California, which featured three compelling Democratic House members – Adam Schiff, Katie Porter, and Barbara Lee – and an uninspiring Republican field led by former baseball star Steve Garvey. Three months ago I’d have thought that Schiff and Porter would advance to the general, which would have been a potentially expensive internecine race in the fall. However, Porter and Lee both underperformed and it only took half an hour after polls closed for Garvey to clinch the second position in the runoff. I’m sad to see Porter leave office, and I was also sad to see a former high school classmate, Joanna Weiss, finish 3rd in the jungle primary for Porter’s open seat in California’s 47th district (perhaps better known as the seat that Sam Seaborn ran in, in a by-election, when Rob Lowe wanted to leave The West Wing in mid-season).

But the most interesting political news of the day came in a state whose primary isn’t until later this month: Arizona, where first-term U.S. Senator Krysten Sinema announced that she would not be running for re-election. A former Green, she had been elected as a Democrat but later became an independent, while still caucusing with the Democrats. Unlike Sanders, she left the party not because she was to its left, but because she had drifted to its right. Congressman Ruben Gallego had announced he would primary Sinema, and it was widely believed he would win. After she left the party to avoid that primary, it was presumed that there would be a three-way general election this fall. As such, Sinema’s decision to stand down rather than run as an independent is a good sign for the Democrats’ ability to retain a key swing seat in the Senate, particularly if as expected the Republicans nominate MAGAite Kari Lake to face Gallego; it is easier to imagine Lake winning a three-way race than a head-to-head against Gallego.