Tonight features important state primary contests in Indiana, where GOP Sen. Lugar faces a challenge,, North Carolina and Wisconsin, where the voters will pick the Democrat to run against Scott Walker in the recall.
In addition voters in North Carolina are deciding on Amendment One, which would put into the state constitution a prohibition against gay marriage — already prevented by statute — and any form of civil unions. You can read my primary primer here.
Polls close in Indiana at 6 pm Eastern, North Carolina at 7:30 pm Eastern, and Wisconsin at 9 pm Eastern.
The first big contest of the night is the Republican primary challenge of incumbent Richard Lugar by State Treasurer Richard Mourdock. Mourdock has the strong backing of a wide spectrum of conservative groups. Unseating an incumbent in a primary would be a huge win for these conservatives groups and send a clear message to other elected Republicans.
6:17 pm – Polls close at 6pm and the first result are starting to come in. With less than 1% report it is currently Mourdock 50.8% – Lugar 49.2%.
6:28 pm – The results are coming in very slowly but looking better for Mourdock. With just 0.7% reporting it Mourdock 56.3% – Lugar 43.7%. There are still very few votes counted but the polling going into the day had Mourdock up by ten points. I would not be surprised if the final total ended up close to this current margin.
6:40 pm – With just over 1% reporting Mourdock lead is holding steady. Mourdock 56.4% – Lugar 43.6%
6:55 pm – Starting to get more numbers and it is looking very bad for Lugar. With 4.4% reporting It is Mourdock 60.9% – Lugar 39.1%. If Lugar does lose, it will be a rare night where both Conservatives and Democrats are celebrating. Conservatives will be celebrating that they took out a DINO. Democrats will be celebrating the fact that polls say that Joe Donnelly does much better against Mourdock in the general than he would against Lugar. A Mourdock primary victory will make the Senate seat potentially competitive this November.
7:06 pm – Things keeping looking worse and worse for Lugar. With 8.6% reporting it is Mourdock 60.8% – Lugar 39.2%. It appears that Lugar is going to lose by an even wider margin than the polling indicated.
7:08 pm – In the least surprising development of the night the AP technically called the Indiana Presidential Republican primary for Mitt Romney.
7:14 pm – During the primary Lugar was attacked strongly for simply working with President Obama on relatively unconventional foreign policies isses. Apparently working with Obama on basically anything is the kiss of death within the GOP. A big Lugar loss should be the ultimate nail in the coffin to the idea that Obama can create bipartisan agreement.
7:20 pm – NBC News is projecting that Mourdock will defeat Lugar.
Final thoughts on Indiana – Richard Mourdock defeating a sitting incumbent Senator is a huge deal. Senators very rarely lose their party’s nomination. This should send shockwaves through the GOP. Lugar was, after all, one of the only six real Republican incumbents running this cycle and Orrin Hatch, another Republican incumbent up this year, has spent months also trying to fend off his own primary challenge.
This will send the message to all sitting Republicans that incumbency does not equal safety. If you don’t stick to conservatives’ principles you can be challenged and defeated. I wouldn’t be surprised if elected Republicans were even more unified and conservative moving forward.