It’s all over but for the voting.
So to try – I fear in vain – to blunt the hyperbole and spin to come, here’s what to watch for once the results come in tonight:
1. Ignore all extrapolations for the general election. The primary electorate is a different animal; no matter how partisans try to claim victories or losses that are meaningful for November, they are spouting unscientific nonsense. Five months to go, so much to happen, many more voters to turn out.
2. Watch how many of the Republican Party’s endorsed candidates win. The list was helpfully provided here by Steve Sebelius. I expect the clown show to take credit for any wins and make excuses about any losses. The truth: The party really went all-out for Sue Lowden, becoming part of her campaign and helping her try to fool voters into believing Gov. Brian Sandoval had endorsed her. If she wins, the party deserves some credit. But the overall won-loss record and the internal dynamics of many of those primaries will be much more illuminating.
3. If Mark Hutchison and other Establishment candidates win their GOP primaries, Gov. Brian Sandoval’s coattails will look long. But if they lose, he will absorb some heat, even if, in some cases, he couldn’t have saved them. But could he have saved some if they lose? Here’s something to keep an eye on: Sandoval has never been a fierce partisan. He did a lot to help Hutchison raise money, but how much will he do in the general to boost GOP candidates? Will he actually risk his political capital and affable reputation to slice and dice? I doubt it. Could be a factor. He never went after Lowden, really. If Hutchison loses….
4. Watch who gets nominated as the Democratic candidate for governor. The person will have no chance, but if it’s an especially wacky member of the nobodies, that could be fun to watch as Lucy Flores, and every other Democrat, will have to sprint away from the top of the ticket.
5. Look how many votes unopposed judges receive. Will there be a lot of voters who skipped those races – and even the competitive ones? Will that number be enough to persuade people it’s time to appoint?
6. Watch what happens in those three contested state Senate primaries on the GOP side. If Minority Leader Michael Roberson loses or either of his two anointed candidates do, mark control of the Senate down for the Democrats. Mark my words on that, too.
7. If Susan Brager holds on for her Clark County Commission seat, and Mary Beth Scow does, too – as is expected – that’s a big victory for Chairman Steve Sisolak. Those are two of his staunch allies.
8. There are at least five Assembly races, including primaries for the two top GOP leaders (Pat Hickey and Lynn Stewart), that could be bellwethers for the split in the GOP either going to the Establishment or the Tea Party/Paulites. Again, I don’t draw too many conclusions from low-turnout primaries. But if Hickey were to lose, which I think is unlikely, you also will see a power struggle inside that caucus.
9. Keep an eye on the margin in the sheriff’s race. If, as I expect, Joe Lombardo and Larry Burns finish 1-2, and the margin is in single digits, this will be a hard-fought sheriff’s race between two respected guys, each supported by an ex-sheriff, one with money (or he did have money) and one with the unions.
10. Watch who goes negative first after the results are in tonight. Whoever does will be looking to emulate Team Reid in 2010 and attempting to define the opponent before the opponent can gain his or her footing. My guess: Reid proxy Lucy Flores, ironically, will be the first target.