Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Incumbents Losing!

When incumbents win easily 95% of the time, it is news when three incumbents go down or are threatened on one primary day. Yesterday, Connecticut, Michigan and Georgia, among other states, hosted their primaries. In those states, Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), she of cell phone throwing fame, was defeated, along with Rep. Joe Schwartz (R-MI), a moderate Republican. And, of course, the big news was Senator Lieberman's (D-CT) defeat based largely on his support of the Iraq war.

Pundits are all acquiver about what this means for November. Is there really a seething electorate out there that is eager to "throw the bums out?" It's hard to say. In each of the races that incumbents lost yesterday, one can certainly see extenuating circumstances based on the individual politics of the region and the candidates' own foibles. Perhaps is McKinney could keep her temper, she might still be in office -- and this isn't the first time she's lost. Perhaps if Schwartz were a little more conservative, he would be more appealing to his rural, conservative district. And perhaps if Senator Lieberman had been opposed to the war, he would have kept Democrats with him.

Nevertheless, what these primaries do point to is a stronger willingness on the part of voters to try someone new, and less of willingness to vote for the incumbent "just because." It will be interesting to see how that plays out in November.

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