Seems to me that one big winner tonight are proponents of tougher financial regulations, especially fans of Lincoln’s provision forcing banks to spin off their derivatives business. The assumption until a few minutes ago was that Lincoln would lose and her provision would quietly get stripped in the conference committee that’s about to take place. Now that she’s won–and won narrowly, and faces a very tough race in the fall–the calculus becomes a lot tougher. It doesn’t seem like a stretch to conclude that Lincoln eeked out a win by convincing just enough voters that she was a Wall Street scourge. If her signature provision goes down in flames, she’ll look toothless and weak, and almost certainly lose her seat. The bank lobby and the Obama administration (both oppose the Lincoln provision) may simply prove too strong and do the deed anyway. But their task got a whole lot harder.
The title is from Kay’s smart comment in a recent thread, and I think it’s a good point to remember when evaluating primary battles. The best outcome is having your candidate win. The second-best is getting the incumbent to move in your direction. Blanche moved in the right direction this Spring, and a well-financed, credible challenger was the reason. It’s not the win that many of us (including me) wanted, but it’s not even in the Lieberman ballpark.