Eight states voted in primaries on Tuesday, a coast-to-coast vote-a-thon that saw the single best race of 2014 so far -- the Mississippi GOP Senate primary -- extended for three more weeks. (Amazing!)
After getting up very early to sort through all of the results -- and there were lots of them! -- I've culled out some of the obvious and, hopefully, less obvious winners and losers from the night that was. My picks are below. Who/what did I miss? The comments section awaits.
* Chris McDaniel: No, the conservative state senator didn't beat Sen. Thad Cochran outright in the Mississippi GOP primary but he a) got more votes than a six-term incumbent and b) will be favored in a low(er) turnout runoff on June 24 in which his conservative base is more likely to vote. McDaniel is now in the catbird's seat to win the GOP nomination, and be the Magnolia State's next U.S. senator.
* Joni Ernst: The question going into Tuesday's Iowa primary was whether Ernst could break 35 percent -- avoiding a convention vote and becoming the party's GOP nominee for the Hawkeye State's open seat outright. She blew past that mark, taking better than 56 percent in a five-way primary. Such a large margin gives Ernst -- and national Republicans -- momentum heading into the general election race against Rep. Bruce Braley (D).
* Club for Growth: The Club, historically the most successful of the panoply of outside conservative groups, went all in for McDaniel -- spending better than $2 million on the race. While the deed isn't done (yet), the Club has to feel good about its chances of adding another Republican incumbent scalp to its wall in three weeks time.
* Mississippi Democrats: No, former Rep. Travis Childers (D) isn't a 50-50 shot against McDaniel. (This is Mississippi in a midterm election, after all.) But Childers' easy win in the Democratic primary coupled with three more weeks of nastiness (and money-spending) on the Republican side gives Democrats their best shot -- albeit not a great one -- of winning the seat.
* California Republicans: Former TARP executive Neel Kashkari's second place finish -- a mere 35 points behind Gov. Jerry Brown! -- avoids the nightmare scenario of conservative state Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (and his penchant for saying very controversial things) as the GOP nominee. Kashkari won't win this fall but he may well be the building block/new face that California Republicans badly need to begin the long climb back to relevance in the state.
* Mike Rounds: The former South Dakota governor cruised to a primary win on Tuesday night, setting up his likely coronation to the Senate this fall. Rounds took a major step toward joining the likes of Joe Manchin, Mark Warner, Angus King and John Hoeven as popular former governors who walked into open Senate seats.
* California Secretary of State: This Web site is still the gold standard for election returns and historic results. Confession: Sometimes I go to it when there are no elections in California -- just to wander around.
* Thad Cochran: Cochran ran a (mostly) bad campaign, saved only by the herculean efforts of the Barbour family -- Haley, Henry and Austin -- to keep him above water. Cochran seemed out of his depth on the trail -- read this brutal assessment of his candidacy by the Atlantic's Molly Ball -- and extremely rusty as a candidate (to put it nicely). Now he enters a three-week runoff in which he starts the race as a decided underdog. Dick Lugar anyone?
* Former Members of Congress: You really can never go home again. Former California Rep. Joe Baca (D) failed to make the runoff in the 31st district and former Mississippi Rep. Gene Taylor (D-R) couldn't force Rep. Steve Palazzo (R) into a runoff. In Alabama, former Rep. Parker Griffith -- elected as a Democrat, switched to Republican, now running as a Democrat -- did win the party's gubernatorial nomination although he enters the general election as major underdog against Gov. Bob Bentley (R).
* Iowa 3rd district Republicans: Six Republicans ran for the right to be the party's nominee in the competitive race to replace retiring Rep. Tom Latham (R). None of them came even close to getting the 35 percent needed to become the party's nominee. So, the standard-bearer will be picked at a party convention -- where all bets are off. Meanwhile, Democrats cleared the field for former state Sen. Staci Appel. Advantage, Democrats.
* California turnout: According to the secretary of state's Web site, less than one in five (18.3 percent) of registered voters actually, you know, voted. In Los Angeles County, turnout was an even more dismal 13 percent. Ugh.
* Early risers: This was a very late night. From the closeness of the contest in Mississippi to California's 11 pm eastern poll closing time, the Fix team's beauty sleep took a major hit last night. And, everyone knows I need my beauty sleep.