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Upsets in Florida, Business as Usual in Arizona, and No Clear Answers About Future Elections

A Trump loyalist, a Bernie-backed progressive, and lots of moderates were victorious. It's hard to create an overarching narrative out of that.

Colin Hackley/ZUMA Press/NewscomColin Hackley/ZUMA Press/NewscomIs the GOP simply the party of Donald Trump now, or is there still room for more moderate, establishment-backed candidates? How much influence does the Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic Party have? Is socialism really that popular?

Those were some of the big unanswered questions heading into yesterday's primary contests, particularly in Florida and Arizona. Now that the results are in, they remain big and unanswered.

Let's start with Florida, where there were some clashing results, to say the least. On the Democratic side, the Sanders-backed Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum won an upset victory over the establishment candidate, former Rep. Gwen Graham (D-Fla.), to win the gubernatorial nomination. Gillum, who could become Florida's first African-American governor, won't say whether he identifies as a democratic socialist, but there's no denying that he's very progressive. (For one thing, he supports Medicare for all.)

Gillum's Republican opponent couldn't be more different. Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) is a Fox News regular who really, really wants to build Trump's proposed border wall. Facing establishment-backed former Rep. Adam Putnam (R-Fla.) in the primary, DeSantis was once considered the underdog, though Trump's endorsement this week helped change that.

While Florida's gubernatorial race will pit a hardline Trump supporter against a Sanders-backed outsider, the Senate election will feature two well-known politicians. Incumbent Bill Nelson ran uncontested for the Democrats, while term-limited Gov. Rick Scott easily captured the Republican nomination. Both candidates have been around for a while (Nelson's been a senator since 2001, while Scott became governor in 2011), so neither is an outsider.

In Arizona, there were very few surprises. Rep. Martha McSally was seen as the GOP's establishment pick for Senate, and she easily defeated two conservative firebrands: former state Sen. Kelli Ward and former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. She'll oppose Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, a moderate who was expected to win the Democratic nomination and did. In the race for governor, incumbent Republican Doug Doucy easily defeated his only opponent, while Democrat Davis Garcia, who's more of a progressive than a moderate, won his party's nomination.

Back in June, democratic socialists got excited when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez upset 10-year House incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley (D–N.Y.). Ocasio-Cortez tried to transfer the magic from her win to other socialists around the country, with mixed results: Gillum and Garcia were both victorious yesterday, but earlier this month a string of progressive insurgents who she endorsed lost big to centrist opponents. Meanwhile, the GOP has room both for Trumpians like DeSantis and relative moderates like Scott and McSally.

If there's one major takeaway from yesterday's results, it's that there isn't one. Evidently, it's not easy to weave a large and diverse country's primaries into a single national narrative.

Photo Credit: Colin Hackley/ZUMA Press/Newscom

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  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    A Trump loyalist, a Bernie-backed progressive, and lots of moderates were victorious. It's hard to create an overarching narrative out of that.

    I don't go to CNN.com anymore, but I'm guessing they can.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Glad to see McSally. She was a reasonable congressman from my area. Though I'm not too familiar as my congressman was technically Raul Grijalva

  • Just Say'n||

    McSally is a stupid name. Sounds like her ancestors tried to Irish up the name, because having their last name being simply "Sally" was humiliating

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Check out Just Say'n McGripeypants.

  • Just Say'n||

    And now you know why we added the "Mc" to that last name

  • Dillinger||

    MacGripeypants on one side of tree wonder if distant relative

  • Just Say'n||

    "Check out this Sally over here"

    "Yes, that's my last name"

    "Hey Sally, you want me to hold your purse for you?"

    "I don't understand. I don't have a purse"

    "What a Sally"

  • Rossami||

    More likely that a perfectly reasonable and historic name got mangled by the bureaucrats at Ellis Island.

  • damikesc||

    Hmm, no comparisons of Dem winners to people like Akin and O'Donnell. This is my shocked face.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Every aspect of O'Donnell -- from her ideology to her statements, from her political craftsmanship to her personal life -- was entertaining.

    And a warning.

  • Just Say'n||

    I think the existence of an ascot adorned man such as you is more entertaining

  • Cynical Asshole||

    A Trump loyalist, a Bernie-backed progressive, and lots of moderates were victorious. It's hard to create an overarching narrative out of that.

    But that won't stop political pundits from trying.

  • Juice||

    Is the guy in that picture all right? Looks like he's having a stroke.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Or maybe someone crouching down off camera just punched him in the nuts.

  • Just Say'n||

    What a Sally

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    *air horn*

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    His face has reached that state of old where it stars to resemble one of them big ol' tree-munching dinosaurs crossed with a tortoise, like in the picture he's craning to chomp on some ancient acacia leaves.

  • Dillinger||

    overarching narrative necessary for being?

  • Will Dukes||

    Gillum's election is actually not as telling as it seems. In a race with 5 (4 really) contenders, he only achieved a plurality of about 35% of the vote. The mod Graham was not far behind. Had Levine and Greene not been in the race pulling votes from Graham, the mod would have won.
    Bottom line, more Democrats in FL did not vote for Gillum than did. On the REP side, different story. DeSantis pulled the majority (sadly) by 20 points.
    We shall see how it plays out.

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