Election Night Live Thread: Lugar! Gays! Scott Walker! Explosions!

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
May 8 2012 6:30 PM

Election Night Live Thread: Lugar! Gays! Scott Walker! Explosions!

MADISON, Wis. -- Isn't it nice how tonight's poll closings happen with 90 minute gaps between them? I think it's nice. I'm en route to an election night party here in Wisconsin, but if you're clicking around, here are the races to watch.

6 p.m.: Indiana. Very few Republicans still think that Sen. Richard Lugar can survive his primary against Richard Mourdock, a Tea Party/Club for Growth/Citizens United-backed challenger who started strong and led every one of the final polls. A Lugar defeat would give conservatives an historic night, recharging their batteries and synapses for coming conservative-establishment battles in Wisconsin, Utah, Michigan, and Texas. But if it's a really stellar night for the movement, Rep. Larry Bucshon -- a freshman who went the "wrong" way on the debt limit -- will go down too, in IN-08. And watch the Democratic primary in IN-02, where the party wants Brendan Mullen to replace Rep. Joe Donnelly. Earlier in the cycle, Democrats failed to nominate the party's preferred nominees in southern Illinois and western Maryland.

7:30 p.m.: North Carolina. Amendment One, which would end benefits for any legal union that isn't male-female marriage, has led in every poll. The anti-One campaign raised big late money, ran robocalls from Bill Clinton, and eventually earned a perfunctory statement of support from President Obama. But it'll be tough for them to win. You can follow the Democratic primary for governor, if that's what you're into, but I'm more interested to see whether Vernon Robinson will win his third attempt at a GOP congressional nomination -- NC-08 -- now that the mega-gerrymandered state has a district he can win.

9 p.m.: Wisconsin. Notice anything strange about this ballot?

photo (43)

Recall elections in Wisconsin are crossover voter's paradise. Anyone can take a ballot and pick nominees for each race. You could vote for Scott Walker, say, then pick one of the Democrats running for lieutenant governor. In one victory center I checked out (Fond du Lac), Republicans were encouraging voters to pick a weak candidate in the LG race -- i.e., not 35-year old labor leader Mahlon Mitchell, whom Democrats prefer. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett led the few polls taken in this race -- Kathleen Falk is his strongest opponent.

Extra bonus fun to watch in other states: See how many Republican votes go to Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich, now that they're out.

7:14: One note as I head out: The early county returns in Indiana confirm the polls. Vigo County (Terra Haute) is almost all in; Mourdock is winning it with 58 percent of the vote.

7:43: And Lugar loses. It's shaping up as a classic incumbent humiliation -- he was polling in the low 40s, and every mortal undecided soul broke against him, for Mourdock.

8:21: I'd lest West Virginia off of the quick guide, because there's not much at stake for Democrats, but there's all the makings of a fantastic trivia question. Barack Obama's sole challenger in West Virginia is Keith Judd, a.k.a inmate #11593-051, a.k.a a perennial candidate who has run in every presidential race since 1996. And he's doing... pretty well!

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.