It’s primary day in eight states today, with voters heading to the polls in Alabama, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Dakota, Iowa, Montana and California. The biggest spotlight is on Mississippi, where Republican Sen. Thad Cochran is being challenged by tea party candidate Chris McDaniel, and Iowa, where state Sen. Joni Ernst is poised to finish first in Tuesday’s Republican primary for U.S. Senate. Check here for the latest results and analysis for all eight states.
The Fix’s Sean Sullivan answers key questions about today’s primaries in eight states:
1. Will Thad Cochran become the first U.S. senator to fall in a 2014 primary?
2. Will Joni Ernst top 35 percent in Iowa?
3. Will Democrats get embarrassed in California’s 31st district again?
4. Oh, and there’s lots more worth watching in California.
5. Open U.S. House primaries are all the rage today.
Voter turnout is always low in midterm elections, as you have probably heard 265,000 times since January. In primaries, it’s even lower. And on election day, that low turnout is always a nice peg for a news story.
So here are the updates from today.
Incidentally, we don’t mean to pick on these outlets. Turnout was low, without question. And no one can resist the lure of the “turnout low” story. Not even the biggest paper in our nation’s capital.
Today’s primary in Mississippi is the first in which the state’s new voter ID law was in effect. Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann told the Associated Press that 1,000 people who didn’t have photo identification received free state IDs prior to the election.
The voter ID measure was on the ballot in 2012, and 62 percent of voters approved it.
The secretary of state’s office reported that they hadn’t fielded many calls regarding voter ID as of 10 a.m., but that the mostly silent telephone lines were also a result of low turnout. One poll worker interviewed by the Clarion-Ledger also said things were going well at her polling place. ”Everyone has had a voter ID card and picture, it has not been an issue. That part has gone smoothly.”
Number of headline puns said candidate caused? At least one.
Number of bee analogies said candidate used? At least one.
Michael Eggman is running in California’s 10th District, located in the Central Valley. He told the National Journal in April 2013 that he was prepared to fix his District’s problems in D.C. ”Going up and down the Valley — because that’s what beekeepers do — I see these blatant problems: High unemployment, high poverty, crumbling infrastructure. Try driving beehives around on crumbling roads when you’re worried about dropping them. You know the saying, ‘Don’t shake a hornets’ nest?’ Well, you don’t want to be shaking a truckload of bees when you’re driving them around, either!”
Republican incumbent Jeff Dunham has raised more money than Eggman, but the DCCC is the leader in outside spending in the race. Dunham and Eggman will definitely be the victors in today’s top two primary, and the DCCC is already planning for the fall. According to Roll Call, the group has spent $1.1 million to reserve airtime in Sacramento in October and November.
The first polls will close at the top of the hour in three states — Alabama, Mississippi and New Jersey.
The races to watch in those states include the Mississippi GOP Senate primary (of course), as well as Rep. Steven Palazzo’s (R-Miss.) primary against former Democratic congressman Gene Taylor (now a Republican) and the crowded GOP primary for retiring Rep. Spencer Bachus’s (R-Ala.) seat.
Below are tonight’s poll closing times for all eight states — and click here for WaPo’s live results page.
Alabama — 8 p.m. Eastern time
Mississippi — 8 p.m. Eastern
New Jersey — 8 p.m. Eastern
New Mexico — 9 p.m. Eastern
South Dakota — 9 p.m. Eastern
Iowa — 10 p.m. Eastern
Montana — 10 p.m. Eastern
California — 11 p.m. Eastern
If LL Cool J, Alanis Morissette, JJ Abrams and Steven Spielberg all support different candidates in the same race, who do you support? This is a trick question, because you do not support any candidate based on what LL Cool J and Alanis Morissette think.
Welcome to California’s 33rd District, where there are at least 16 people running to replace Rep. Henry Waxman, last time we checked. Also, so many celebrities. This is Los Angeles, after all.
This list does not include all of the dream candidates the Internet requested after Waxman announced his retirement plans.
@RollCallAbby i think not lol— Richard Simmons (@TheWeightSaint) January 31, 2014
A rash of thunderstorms and tornado warnings in western Iowa and southeastern South Dakota is prompting delays in voting and canceling candidates’ travel plans.
Voting was suspended in Pottawattamie County in southwestern Iowa, according to the Associated Press. At 5 p.m. Central Daylight Time, “poll workers and voters in 10 of the county’s 40 precincts were forced to seek shelter in the buildings where voting was taking place,” the report indicates. Once the storm passes, voting will resume as normal, but it’s not clear if there will be any change to when polls close.
Mike Rounds, competing in the South Dakota Republican Senate primary, had intended to head to Sioux Falls tonight. Those plans were canceled, since the city is in the center of the bad weather.
County auditor Mary Jo Drake described the scene in Pottawattamie to the AP. The sky, she said, is “as black as the ace of spades.”
— Misti Aljoe-Graber (@Mistiiniowa) June 3, 2014
Who says the right to vote and the right to bear arms can’t be enjoyed simultaneously?
Well, poll workers at First United Methodist Church in Alabaster, Ala., for one, but they appear to have been in the wrong. John David Murphy went to vote at the church earlier today and was told to put his handgun in his truck before he could vote. He did so. But his situation prompted the local sheriff to post an update on Facebook clarifying that people who could legally carry firearms were allowed to bring the guns with them into polling places — except at the courthouse or, unless concealed, in schools. Laws are complicated.
Murphy doesn’t appear to have been trying to make a political point, unlike a man in Shelby County. He pulled up to a group of volunteers outside the polling place (also a church) and told them, “I’m about to bring my firearm in here and they’re going to tell me I can’t, and it’s my constitutional right,” according to AL.com. Wearing a “Carry Bama” t-shirt and with “a camera phone displayed … recording his experience,” he walked inside, prompting a quick response from emergency vehicles. It’s unknown if he ended up voting.
Murphy, the man who tried to vote in Alabaster, did vote. He also pledged to complain to county leaders. And what better way to send that message than at the ballot box?
The Democratic primary for governor of Alabama features two men that have both changed teams.
Kevin Bass spent several years in the minor leagues, playing for farm teams of the Cubs and White Sox. His lifetime batting average was .219, which isn’t bad.
Then there’s Parker Griffith. In 2008, he won the Democratic primary for the state’s 5th congressional district, winning the general election in a squeaker. Two years later, he lost — after having switched parties to become a Republican.
When Bass was the only Democrat to have filed to run for governor earlier this year, Griffith filed as a Democrat and a candidate “minutes” before the deadline, according to the Associated Press.
Whoever wins tonight, the odds that they will triumph against incumbent Republican Gov. Robert Bentley in November seem slim. (Assuming Bentley wins his primary.) And after the primaries, it will almost certainly be too late to change teams.
As in Mississippi, today was the first election in which Alabama voters had to bring ID to the polls in order to vote, after the 2011 passage of a law tightening voting rules. (Twitter was full of reminders for people heading to vote.) If they did forget ID, voters were still allowed to cast a ballot, provided two poll workers vouch for their identity.
That backup wasn’t always sufficient. One woman, a 92-year-old who hasn’t moved in 57 years, was turned away at the polls because her drivers license has been expired since August, and no poll worker was able to identify her.
Kay Campbell of the Huntsville Times spoke with Libba Nicholson, the woman’s neighbor (and occasional driver):
She had not renewed [the license] because her eyesight is failing and she has made the tough decision to quit driving. But she thought since it was so recent, it would work. She uses it to cash checks and in other rare incidences when she is asked for an ID.
The woman, who Campbell describes as “deeply embarrassed,” decided not to cast a provisional ballot because she would have needed to update her ID by Friday, and she didn’t think she’d be able to arrange the rides she would need to do so.
She wasn’t alone. Willie Mims, 93, showed up to vote and also was blocked from doing so, MSNBC reports. He first voted during World War II, he told organizers from a progressive vote, but not today. He was told he’d need ID, and he didn’t have any. So he went home and took a nap.