A series of very high-profile primaries could play a decisive role in deciding the future of the GOP and will serve as a major referendum on the state of the party. Races in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Idaho are already showing where the Republican Party is headed prior to the general elections in November and the 2024 presidential election. Voters have overwhelmingly chosen to push their nominees further to the right, and both parties are paying close attention.
Pennsylvania candidates fight to be most conservative
Pennsylvania races have been some of the most bitterly contested and high profile of any Republican primaries this year.
Both parties believe that they can win statewide races in Pennsylvania in November, and Republican strategists have largely kept their eyes on electability in the general election.
Voters, on the other hand, have completely upended the gubernatorial and Senate races and all of the candidates have been pressured to move to the right.
The most vocally conservative candidates have planted themselves at the top of the polls, and all have faced scrutiny and accusations of being insufficiently conservative from rivals.
Social issues have been particularly prominent, including abortion. Democrats and some Republicans feel that the fate of Roe v. Wade is a topic that will benefit the left in November.
Republican voters have made it very clear that they disagree, and candidates who have convincing pro-life records have thrived in the polls.
Strong challenges in North Carolina, Idaho
In North Carolina Republicans are running to replace another retiring senator. The leading candidates are similarly engaged in a fight to establish themselves as the true conservative in the race.
Representative Ted Budd, who is endorsed by Donald Trump, is running to the right of former Governor Pat McCrory. Polling has shown a very strong lead for Budd.
Elsewhere in North Carolina, controversial Representative Madison Cawthorn is facing a major primary challenge, though this race is largely centered around Cawthorn’s own scandals and behavior, rather than political positions.
Idaho is a much more definitive race for state Republicans, as Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin hopes to Governor Brad Little as a more right-wing and pro-Trump Republican.
Primaries are also taking place in Kentucky and Oregon, though the races there have not been nearly as contentious on the Republican side.
Regardless of their outcomes, the races in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and elsewhere have already shown that most Republican voters are not interested in choosing moderate candidates in 2022.