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Tuesday’s Big Primaries: What’s at Stake

Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln

Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., speaks with a constituent while campaigning; NewsHour file photo.

Tuesday marks the latest “big primary day” in the 2010 midterm election cycle, and voters in several states could start to make an impact on how Congress will take shape. Eleven states are holding primaries, but only a few are expected to have important consequences for control of Congress next year.

The Senate races in Arkansas, Nevada and California, which could all be competitive in November, will be finalized after Tuesday’s primary. Each of the contested seats is controlled by Democrats. Republicans could come closer to taking back control of the Senate if they win some of these races in the general election.

Arkansas Senate — Democratic primary run-off: Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s job is on the line in the Natural State, where last month neither she nor challenger Lt. Gov. Bill Halter reached 50 percent of the vote. If Lincoln loses the primary, she would be the third incumbent senator to lose a reelection bid in the 2010 cycle.

While Halter has the backing of labor unions, former Arkansas Gov. and President Bill Clinton stumped for Lincoln in late May.

The latest poll on the run-off, from Daily Kos/Research 2000, has Halter above Lincoln, 49 to 45 percent, with 6 percent undecided. The margin of error is 4 percent, indicating that it’s unclear who is might be winning.

The winner will run against Republican Rep. John Boozman in November.

Watch Spencer Michels’ report on the race, which aired before the first primary, here.

Nevada Senate — Republican primary: There is a close race to be the Republican opponent to Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who is a top target of the Tea Party movement and the national Republican Party.

The Washington Post reported June 7 that the zeal among Republicans to replace Reid has boosted the campaign of former state assemblywoman Sharon Angle, who now leads the Republican field that includes previous favorite Sue Lowden, a former state senator, and also Danny Tarkanian, son of a UNLV basketball coach.

California Senate — Republican primary: Although California is a reliable state for Democrats, third-term Sen. Barbara Boxer’s seat could be vulnerable. Her approval rating, according to a recent Public Policy Polling release, is at 37 percent.

In the three-way Republican primary to challenge her, former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina is out in front. According to RealClearPolitics’ polling average, she has more than a 20-point lead over closest rival Tom Campbell, a former House member and professor. The Republican favorite got even worse results from the PPP survey – Fiorina’s approval rating was 22 percent.

Fiorina’s campaign made a splash online when they rolled out a bizarre Web ad — “Demon sheep” — accusing Campbell of being a “fiscal conservative in name only.”

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