Primary elections in four Republican-leaning states rattled Congress on Tuesday night, as voters ejected a sitting member of the House and set up intense campaigns for the Senate in several battlegrounds.
Republicans averted a worst-case scenario — the nomination of an ex-convict coal baron in West Virginia — but faced warning signs elsewhere. Here are our takeaways from the evening.
Congress is very unpopular
Voters nearly always dislike Congress, but Tuesday was a vivid illustration of just how toxic the taint of Washington may be in 2018.
The night was a near-wipeout for members of the House seeking higher office. Three Republican lawmakers lost campaigns for the Senate: Luke Messer and Todd Rokita in Indiana, and Evan Jenkins in West Virginia. A fourth, James B. Renacci of Ohio, won the Senate nomination but drew less than half the primary vote despite facing relatively unknown opponents and campaigning with President Trump’s loud support.
Most alarming for Republicans was Representative Robert Pittenger’s defeat in North Carolina, which may cost them a seat in the general election. But it was not just voters on the right showing dissatisfaction: Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia saw three in 10 Democratic primary voters cast ballots for a low-profile liberal activist instead.