One more primary night, and once again the results fell into a pretty firm pattern.
Democratic women are doing extremely well. The highlights Tuesday were Stacey Abrams, nominated for governor in Georgia; Lupe Valdez, nominated for governor in Texas; and Amy McGrath, who won her U.S. House nomination in Kentucky.
Republican women? Not so much. Dave Hopkins runs through what it looks like for both parties. Why the difference? Democratic voters seem to be looking for women to vote for. Women are running in unusual numbers this year. Women also are increasingly important party actors on the Democratic side, while that just isn’t the case with Republicans. That matters with advocacy for women running for office, with Emily’s List and other groups part of the long-term infrastructure of the party. It also almost certainly helps produce candidates, and makes it far more likely that women get a fair shake (at least) from the party.
Democrats are not in disarray. In Texas’ 23rd District, party-supported Joseph Kopser seemed to be doing everything right in the March election but finished second behind Mary Wilson, a relative unknown who ran a barely visible campaign (at least in the San Antonio portion of the district). But in Tuesday’s runoff, Kopser turned the tables on her, winning by a comfortable margin. That’s typical of what’s been happening everywhere.
It doesn’t mean that Democrats are always nominating their strongest possible candidate, but reasonable party actors can disagree around the margins about which candidates are more electable and the relative importance of electability and policy orthodoxy. Out of 435 House districts, not to mention thousands of other offices, I’m sure Democrats will wind up with plenty of real duds or worse. Overall, however, we’re not seeing excessive purism; we’re not seeing many candidates chosen who throw away winnable races; and we’re not seeing large fields producing utter chaos.
In other words, Democrats seem to have successfully managed to field far more candidates and generated far more enthusiasm without — for now, at least — producing any of the dangerous pathologies that often come with those conditions.
Jonathan Bernstein is a guest columnist for the Associated Press. Visit Bloomberg News at www.bloomberg.com.