So, was this past primary a conservative wave in the GOP? No. It was a campaigning wave.

Under a comment recently, someone (anonymous, of course) in the midst of trash-talking had made the claim that the past election was a referendum against “Republicans In Name Only” and represented a major conservative sweep of the primary elections.

That had me questioning this anonymous thesis, because to my knowledge, it was utterly wrong. And not just the usual wrongness exhibited by anonymous commentators, it was completely wrong!

Why do I think this? Look at how the results in the State Senate races came out. But don’t just look at the names – look at WHY they won:




Why won?

Senate 5



Name ID/Campaigning

Senate 7



Name ID/Campaigning

Senate 9



Name ID/Campaigning

Senate 19



Name ID/Campaigning

Senate 28



Name ID/Campaigning

Senate 30



Ideological Divide

Senate 32



Name ID/Campaigning

Senate 33



Ideological Divide

Senate 34



Name ID/Campaigning

Senate 35



Name ID/Campaigning

Winners are tagged in red, those who I would argue won based on ideology are tagged in dark red.  I also tried to highlight the factors I viewed as the primary reason they won.

In D5, Tapio ran a very aggressive campaign and spent a lot of money. His signs were all over the place.  Tidemann had strong name ID, and ran an aggressive campaign.  Deb Peters was a campaign machine. In D19, Stace Nelson had the benefit of being on a statewide ballot the previous year. Ryan Maher had good name ID, and ran hard. Same with Solano, Partridge & Haverly.

In only two races, could we argue it might have come down to conservative versus a less conservative opponent – in Russell and Jensen’s victories, because name ID would be said to be very equal in those cases.

And that brings up something I’ve been taught, on why people cast ballots for elections, and that still holds very true – the Know-Like-Trust test.  In the Know-Like-Trust test, with two candidates, all things being equal, they’ll vote for the candidate they know, over the one they don’t.  If they know them both, they’ll vote for the one they like. And if they like them both, they’ll cast a ballot for the one they trust.

In this case, I’m not seeing anything that puts a dent into this maxim of politics. Name ID and campaigning had the day. And in those cases where they knew them both, I’d argue only then were the candidates able to successfully pivot from pure name ID to fighting it out on the basis of issues.

So was it a conservative wave? I’d argue no. Absolutely not. It was a campaigning wave!

And a good lesson to candidates that if they want to win, they need to be ready to put in the work.

9 Replies to “So, was this past primary a conservative wave in the GOP? No. It was a campaigning wave.”

  1. A Nony Moose

    Solem is no conservative. He has been running on his dads name for years. The voters decided they had enough of him.

    Tapio, a conservative newcomer sent him packing.

    1. Anonymous

      How do any of you know where Tapio lands once he starts voting? Who does he want for majority leader?

      Just because he won an open primary doesn’t mean he ran against the tax increase. He seems thoughtful and reasonable.

  2. Pancho

    Your theory has holes in it as big as the “Minnow,” Captain.

    All of the moderates you cite, all campaigned claiming to be conservatives.

    You discount Nelson’s race as ideological? How was that not a stark contrast in ideology? You had moderate politicians supporting a FB co troll supporting g candidate who proudly displayed cross dressing photos of himself on Farbook vs a well known antiestablishment conservative.

    Tapio has already made a name for himself before winning of being a herd nosed Nelson type conservative who took on another moderate establishment darling.

    Hubbel had statewide name recognition but runs a terrible campaign and was up against the whole weight of the establishment moderates (not unlike Nelson, but we know Nelson at least did some campaigning early on).

    Making a claim either way is ridiculous with the problem of the moderates running as conservatives. No way to filter those results.

  3. Anonymous

    How these guys vote in the leadership races will decide a lot. We don’t know who is running, we don’t know who has relationships with who and we don’t know where these guys align philosophically.
    I believe we have 10 Challengers, 10 Status Quo and 8 Uncertain.

    My uncertains are Maher, Langer, Kolbeck, Tapio, Bolin, Curd, Otten and Novstrup.

    The side that wins the majority of these people will control the Senate. Both sides better nominate good candidates for leadership.

  4. Anonymous

    Daugaard’s moderates struggled in most races: Rampleberg, Solem and Sly got trounced; Haverly, Partridge and Peters struggled against unknown or underfunded challengers; Nelson destroyed the Governor’s boy; and a few moderates won by victories that an incumbent should win by: Solano and Tiedeman.

    Clearly, there was a waive. For the most part, the Governor’s candidates did not fair very well, even some that won with very poor showings.