Two factors were at play here, and both are good signs for Burner's campaign going forward:
- This was a low-turnout primary, and in those conditions, Republicans have traditionally outperformed the general-election results in this district.
- There were more total votes cast for Democrats (Burner had two opponents) than for Reichert.
Indeed, it has to be deeply discomforting for any incumbent congressman -- especially one in a district that has never elected a Democrat to Congress -- to look at those results. Anything under 50 percent in a primary means that he's losing serious ground.
Indeed, out of the 94 congressional races in this kind of primary in the state between 1982 and 2002, incumbents missed the 50 percent mark only 10 times. Out of those 10, seven went on to lose in November.
As the P-I reported this morning, all signs point to another razor-thin margin in the 8th District this year.
On the other hand, the fact that Burner didn't outpoll Reichert clearly tells her -- and everyone -- that she has her work cut out if she wants to win in November. It will be an uphill battle, and it'll take a supreme (and supremely smart) effort on everyone's part to get her on the winning side of that thin margin.
Go to Darcy's Blue America page to help if you can.