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5 Key Takeaways From the August 2 Primaries

Mark Finchem, who won the GOP primary for Arizona secretary of State, waves to the crowd as he arrives to speak at a Save America rally on July 22, 2022. Photo: Ross D Franklin/AP/Shutterstock

Five states held midterm primaries on Tuesday, August 2: Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington. It was the largest remaining batch of primaries before general-election campaigns ramp up in earnest. While the contests for various offices were justifiably overshadowed by the stunning pro-choice victory in Kansas in the first electoral test of abortion policy after the Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade, there were a lot of other significant results. Here’s what we’ve learned.


Trump did well with his endorsements.

The 45th president maintained his perfect record in contested 2022 Senate primaries as Blake Masters won in Arizona and Eric Schmitt won in Missouri (though Trump deserves an asterisk here after endorsing “Eric” and not making it clear whether that meant Schmitt or Eric Greitens). At first, it looked like he might have another gubernatorial stumble in Arizona when free-spending Establishment Republican Karrin Taylor Robson (backed by term-limited incumbent governor Doug Ducey) leapt to a big early lead over longtime local TV anchor Kari Lake, an election denier whom Trump endorsed last year. It was sort of a reverse “red mirage” outcome, with Robson dominating in early mail ballots that were reported first. But when Election Day votes came in, Lake overtook Robson; while there are votes still outstanding, she is likely to win.

Arizona is making a strong case for being treated as the election-denial capital of America; state attorney general nominee Abe Hamadeh has also denied the legitimacy of Biden’s election, and candidates who have at least expressed doubts about the 2020 election are leading in every Republican congressional primary in the state. That could mean fresh momentum for Democrats like incumbent senator Mark Kelly and gubernatorial nominee Katie Hobbs (who won her primary easily) in this classic battleground state, despite the national Republican midterm wave. While Republicans have been competing for Trump’s favor in the fever swamps of 2020 revisionism, Democrats have been calmly raising money and positioning themselves for November.

In the other contested Republican gubernatorial primary, Trump’s endorsee Tudor Dixon easily won a once-red-hot Michigan gubernatorial primary. But she is another election denier who will need a wind at her back to defeat incumbent Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer.

The ex-president had an important down-ballot win in Arizona with the victory of arch-election-denier Mark Finchem in the primary for secretary of State. And he likely enjoyed the defeat of Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers in a state senate primary; Bowers testified on Trump’s postelection misconduct in a hearing of the U.S. House Select Committee investigating January 6.


Two impeachers won; one lost.

Trump also, of course, cared about the fate of three Republican U.S. House incumbents facing voters on August 2 who voted to impeach him after the January 6 insurrection. Michigan’s Peter Meijer narrowly lost to Trump endorsee John Gibbs. But in Washington, with some votes still out, it appears Don Newhouse and (less certainly) Jaime Herrera Beutler will survive the top-two primary and become strong favorites in November against either a Democrat or a MAGA Republican.


Two members of the Squad survived primary challenges.

Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib and Missouri’s Cori Bush, two members of the House progressive “Squad,” faced serious primary challenges on Tuesday. Both won handily. But Squad-adjacent Michigan congressman Andy Levin, backed by Bernie Sanders in his incumbent-versus-incumbent primary fight with Haley Stevens, lost pretty badly. Levin was a target of heavy spending organized by AIPAC.


Not all Democratic senators are in trouble.

Optimistic Republicans have speculated that if their 2022 midterm wave is strong enough, veteran Democrats like Washington’s Patty Murray could be swept away. But in a state where the top-two primary vote is usually very predictive of the November results, Murray won 54 percent against a large field.

Republicans lost the combined primary vote by a 57-40 margin. Murray should be fine in November.


A new breeze could come from Kansas.

Meanwhile, the Kansas abortion vote is politically relevant for reasons other than its impact on reproductive rights. The big turnout and strong majority for the pro-choice cause showed that Democrats might counter the pro-Republican midterm dynamics by focusing on abortion policy. They have a popular opinion advantage, and the issue could motivate an otherwise discouraged party base. That could be a game-changing development in November.

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5 Key Takeaways From the August 2 Primaries