August 3 Primary Odds: Next GOP Establishment Vs. Trump Battle

Written By Evan Scrimshaw on July 19, 2022
Karrin Taylor Robson

On August 2, there is an interesting slate of primaries, and two of them on the GOP side are especially interesting. Republicans have choices to make about the kind of candidates they want in the battle over the newly drawn Michigan District 3 and in the race to be Arizona’s next Governor between Karrin Taylor Robson and Kari Lake.

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Arizona Governor: Republican Primary

CandidatePredictIt PriceImplied Odds
Kari Lake$0.66-194
Karrin Taylor Robson$0.35+185

Here we have a chaotic race, with a straight-up election denialist running against a staunch conservative, as the proxy war over the 2020 election makes its next stop.

In any normal time – also known as 2014 – Karrin Taylor Robson would be described as the fringe, crank candidate of the race, a social conservative with retrograde views on abortion that are out of step with the majority pro-choice electorate of Arizona. She would be facing calls from the centre of the Arizona GOP to rally around a candidate to defeat her, because she is too conservative for the state.

In reality, she is the more moderate candidate.

To be clear, she isn’t moderate at all, she just isn’t willing to explicitly say that Joe Biden stole the election in Arizona, which makes her more reasonable than Kari Lake, who is an explicit believer in Donald Trump’s election lies.

Lake is running with the support of Trump and his cadre of Make America Great Again supporters, while Karrin Taylor Robson is running with the support of the current Governor Doug Ducey and the Arizona GOP establishment, making this yet another proxy war.

Lake is going to be aided by the fact that Blake Masters looks to be ahead in the Senate primary, where establishment conservative Mark Brnovich is going nowhere fast, is going to help, especially as Trumpian, Masters for Senate supporters end up coming home for the Trump endorsed candidate for Governor.

Taylor Robson has been surging as there has been some consolidation of the non-Lake vote in her favor, but even still, the best Republican pollster in the country had Lake with an 11% lead in the most recent poll of the race.

It is tempting for people who really want to believe that the GOP might come to what could be described as the sane and reasonable path again. The problem is, the party isn’t there anymore. This is the same state party that elected Kelli Ward as state party chair, whose most famous contribution to the public realm was spouting the chemtrails conspiracy.

The Arizona GOP have consistently chosen to make their lives more difficult, and will do so again here by nominating Lake. While Trump has not always had the best of luck with Congressional races this year, his nominee has yet to lose a statewide primary this year when there’s been no incumbent running, as there isn’t here.

Trump got his people through in Ohio Senate and both Pennsylvania primaries, and he is cruising to get Masters through on the Senate side. Karrin Taylor Robson winning an open GOP Primary at this point would be a shock, which is why it’s not going to happen.

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Michigan 3rd Congressional District

CandidatePredictIt PriceImplied Odds
John Gibbs$0.70-233
Peter Meijer$0.31+222

This is another primary where an incumbent House member is being challenged, and once again the incumbent member’s supposed sin is a lack of fealty to the now former President, Donald Trump. Like the battle in South Carolina’s 7th, where Tom Rice lost re-nomination, current Republican incumbent Peter Meijer is trying to win a Republican nomination after voting to impeach Donald Trump.

Meijer is an underdog for re-nomination on that basis alone, as the GOP have made opposition to Trump a calling card for defeat since 2016. Yes, Nancy Mace held on in South Carolina’s 1st, but she wasn’t an impeachment voter, and her opposition had already lost a General Election in that seat.

But even then, Mace only won narrowly in a seat against a candidate who clearly had a ceiling on her support without the problem of impeachment hanging over her. For Meijer, who did actually vote to impeach Trump over January 6th, survival will be harder.

What he has going for him is the raised salience of January 6th in the news since then, and the fact that the January 6th Commission has shown up the horrific consequences of Trump trying to steal the 2020 election. There is some evidence that more Republicans are starting to detach themselves from 2020 trutherism, which could help.

The problem for Meijer is that the average Republican voter in a general election, or in a poll, is substantially to the left of the average Republican primary voter, and those voters still overwhelmingly (and incorrectly) believe that Joe Biden is only in the White House due to fraud.

Meijer’s best case might actually be his name – he is a son of the famous Meijer supermarket chain in that part of the world – but the problem for Meijer is that his differences with the GOP aren’t just on Trump.

Meijer is one of the most moderate members of the GOP’s House caucus – a vote for repealing the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force in Afghanistan which has been used to justify foreign operations across the Middle East, a vote for the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization, and a vote for protections for trans women, none of which are views held by the majority of his primary voters.

If he had the Mace record of criticizing Trump but a loyal voting record afterwards, he might have a chance. If he had the moderate voting record but had backed Trump, he might even be a favorite. But the idea of him being both too socially moderate for the voters and anti-Trump vehemently is a bridge too far.

It’s hard to bet on a primary underdog at a favorite price, but here, it’s necessarily. Meijer’s voting record makes him a classic one term member – he lost his path forward when he voted to impeach Trump.

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