Last night's primaries in Michigan, Missouri, Washington state and Kansas couldn't have gone much better for Democrats.
The party saw Republicans nominate their weakest candidate against Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, who spent her own campaign money in order to affect the outcome of the primary. They saw Republicans tap a reindeer-farming Santa Claus with controversial views to run for the suburban Detroit seat recently held by Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, R-Mich. And in a promising gubernatorial pickup opportunity for the GOP in Washington state, the first round of balloting showed Democrats still hold some fundamental advantages in a traditionally Democratic state.
The biggest news came out of Missouri, where GOP Rep. Todd Akin came from behind against self-funded businessman John Brunner and former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman, two candidates who Republican party officials viewed as more formidable challengers against McCaskill. Akin, as a longtime member of Congress and ardent social conservative, holds vulnerabilities that McCaskill is hoping to exploit. With the self-funding Brunner as the nominee, Republicans likely wouldn't have had to spend money to hold onto the seat. With Akin, Republicans are very confident about their prospects - a recent poll showed him leading McCaskill by five points -- but they'll need to expend resources against the freshman senator.