What Happened During Yesterday’s Primaries?

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Yesterday, June 23, was a huge day for presidential and Senate primaries throughout the United States. Several longtime establishment candidates faced formidable challenges from much newer challengers, and in some cases, these newcomers unexpectedly triumphed. Read on to learn all yesterday’s primary results.


Kentucky is likely to prove an important state during the 2020 Senate elections, as one of the state’s two current Senators is Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the Senate Majority Leader. In McConnell’s recent years, he has come under extensive fire for all manner of reasons, perhaps most notably for blocking Barack Obama’s appointment of Merrick Garland to the Supreme court. He faced opposition from many fellow Republicans in Kentucky’s primary yesterday, but he handily beat all of them with 87 percent of the vote.

The race to be McConnell’s Democratic opponent has proven much closer. In the Kentucky Democratic primary, retired marine Amy McGrath and Kentucky state representative Charles Booker competed for the nomination, and the race remains too close to call. While McGrath currently leads Booker by just over four points, this tally currently includes no mail-in ballots, which will be counted over the next many days and could completely reshape the race.

New York

New York, which tends to lean Democratic, saw one of the year’s most intense primary challenges between newcomer Jamaal Brown and longtime Democratic representative Eliot Engel (D-NY). As of early Wednesday, Brown outpolled Engel by a whopping 25 points. The vote is not yet finalized, as 15 percent of precincts remain uncounted. Should Brown win, he would be the second New York newcomer in recent memory to unseat a longtime senior Democratic representative in the primary.

The other recent instance of such an upset was in 2018, when now-ubiquitous Bronx resident Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defeated then-House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joseph Crowley in the primary and was ultimately elected to the House of Representatives. Ocasio-Cortez faced three primary challengers in last night’s primary, and she easily defeated all of them.

North Carolina

Alongside last night’s primaries came a runoff House of Representatives primary in North Carolina. There, Republican newcomer Madison Cawthorn faced off against President Trump’s pick to replace Rep. Mark Meadows, whom Trump recently named White House Chief of Staff. Cawthorn, a disabled 24-year-old with minimal prior political experience, ultimately defeated Lynda Bennett in the Republican race in North Carolina’s 11th congressional district. He will go on to face Democratic candidate Moe Davis in the race to claim Meadows’ seat.

How do last night’s primaries reflect nationwide opinions?

Given some of the surprises of last night’s primaries, some have pointed to the COVID-19 pandemic and the uprisings in the wake of George Floyd’s death as potential downfalls for longtime establishment candidates of all stripes, particularly Republicans. Polls released the morning after the primaries show that a similar anti-Republican stance may continue into the presidential race, as Democratic candidate Joe Biden now boasts a strong lead over Donald Trump. For over a month now, polls have painted trouble for the Trump campaign, though many experts insist that Trump still has a strong possibility of winning.

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