On Tuesday, voters in three critical states roared their disapproval of the political status quo.
» In Kentucky, Rand Paul crushed the state GOP establishment's candidate, Secretary of State Trey Grayson, in the highest turnout in the history of Kentucky Republican primaries.
» In Pennsylvania, Democrats demonstrated that they did not appreciate RINO Sen. Arlen Specter's opportunistic switch to their party. They overwhelmingly chose Rep. Joe Sestak as their nominee over Specter.
» In Arkansas, Democratic voters denied Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., a majority, which forces her into a runoff against Democratic Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. Momentum is with Halter, so Lincoln faces a difficult challenge just to get out of the primary.
Voters are taking baseball bats to the idols of American politics. Incumbents should be very afraid, as Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, and Rep. Alan Mollohan, D-W.Va., already learned. The candidates themselves are not the only endangered idols. Party bosses and traditional power players in American politics also find their positions threatened. Pennsylvania's Service Employees International Union and AFL-CIO demonstrated their powerlessness in their all-out effort on Specter's behalf. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a main architect of the Kentucky Republican Party and a longtime GOP leader in the U.S. Senate, couldn't deliver 40 percent of the primary vote to his hand-picked candidate.
The most fragile idol of all appears to be President Obama. Like McConnell, Obama remains popular with his base, but his ability to sway voters' opinions appears to be nonexistent. Having failed to buy Sestak out of the primary with an administration job, Obama contributed an affectionate TV spot to Specter, but he still lost by 8 percentage points. Obama's backing of Lincoln, which consisted mostly of help from afar, might have been counterproductive. She did not even want him stumping for her in Arkansas. These two Senate primary defeats follow Obama's spirited but unsuccessful campaigning for Democrats Martha Coakley in Massachusetts, Jon Corzine in New Jersey and Creigh Deeds in Virginia. Obama has become the polarizing symbol of the Washington-business-as-usual politics and policies most voters resent.
Finally, it is important to note that Democrats had a good election night, despite Obama. With help from increased turnout in Pennsylvania's up-ticket races, they retained deceased Rep. Jack Murtha's House seat. In Pennsylvania and in Kentucky, they nominated the stronger general election nominee, and they are likely to do the same in Arkansas on June 8. Republicans are justified in hoping for big gains in November, but they must not let Obama's weakness make them complacent. If they do not bring real hope of change to the campaign trail this fall, the voters' disappointment will become theirs on Election Day.