Primary contests test anti-Washington attitude 

Voters in 11 states will head to the polls Tuesday, and many of the contests will gauge the strength of the anti-incumbent, anti-establishment sentiment among voters.

Sens. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., and Bob Bennett, R-Utah, already have been rejected in their re-election bids and Arkansas' Blanche Lincoln could be the third member of the Senate to lose a primary contest this year as she trails in the polls in a primary runoff against Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. Rep. Bob Inglis, R-S.C., could be the third congressman to be ousted, following Reps. Alan Mollohan, D-W.Va., and Parker Griffith, R-Ala., who both lost their primaries. Voters on Tuesday are also poised to reject Republican Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons.

Polling shows a high level of dissatisfaction with incumbents among voters, as well as the disagreement with the direction of the Republican Party, which has helped to make Tea Party candidates like Nevada's Sharron Angle, who is running for Senate, more attractive.

But not everyone is seeing a trend.

University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato points out that the vast majority of incumbent candidates are winning their primaries or going unchallenged.

Sabato said some of the losses can be explained by individual circumstances. Griffith and Specter switched parties, for example, and Gibbons' tenure has been plagued by personal scandal.

"It doesn't sound like a revolution to me," Sabato said. "You're talking about tiny numbers here."

Primaries also will take place Tuesday in California, Iowa, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, Virginia, North Dakota and South Dakota.

sferrechio@washingtonexaminer.com

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