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Schieffer: Money and Melodrama Shape Primaries

The biggest election day of the year heading into November came with a few surprises. But the real story was ladies night. Women from both parties dominated the political landscape.

While the BP oil spill and the government's "impotence" likely played a role, it is difficult to draw one central conclusion from the races because they were influence by everything from money and labor unions to the tea party and political plot lines reminiscent of "Desperate Housewives," says CBS News chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer.

"There's just this general feeling that the government is sort of impotent to do much of anything about anything. And I think there's no question that has something to do with the voter frustration that's being felt out across the country," Schieffer said on CBS' The Early Show on Wednesday.

"But it really is hard to draw much deep analysis or deeper meaning from these races last night. Because they were all so different."

  • In Aransas, Blanche Lincoln barely eked out a primary win over her opponent, who was challenging her from the left.

    "He was well-financed by labor unions," Schieffer said. "It's not all that easy for a labor-backed candidate to win in the South, and this time we saw that once again, a labor-backed candidate did not win. But she is still the underdog going in to November. She's going to have a very difficult time there."

  • Out in California, it was just all a question of money.

    "Meg Whitman won out there won by spending nearly $80 million," Schieffer said. "Money still talks in politics. And we saw a real example of that."

  • Down in South Carolina, state Rep. Nikki Haley ran far ahead of her rivals in the Republican gubernatorial primary but fell short of the majority needed to win the nomination outright.

    "They continue to draw their political plot lines from, you know, 'Desperate Housewives' or something, you saw again a very conservative candidate win," Schieffer said. "These campaigns in South Carolina are really providing some entertainment, as it were, for the rest of the country. You had Governor Sanford down there and his adventures. And now these allegations against Nikki Haley - we should underline and point out, totally, totally without foundation. Nobody has proven anything. But it just shows, I mean, kind of the nature of politics down there this year. It's really extraordinary."

  • In Nevada, Tea party activists tested their muscle in Nevada, backing Sharron Angle in a race to select a Republican opponent against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in a state where unemployment was 13.7 percent in April.

    "I suspect that Democrats in Nevada are very happy about this," Schieffer said. "She was the tea party-backed candidate. The other part is, she is one of the few people in the state of Nevada who has endorsed, I understand, storing nuclear waste in Nevada. Nevada politics has always been about putting the nuclear waste someplace else. She has endorsed that. That's going to be very difficult for her. I think the Reid people think that he would have a much better chance beating her than some of the other Republicans in the primaries. (It's) still going to be very, very close. He has a lot of work to do out there."

More Coverage of Tuesday's Primaries:

Winners: Blanche Lincoln | Nikki Haley | Meg Whitman | Carly Fiorina | Sharron Angle | Roundup
Anthony Salvanto: What's Next for the Big Primary Winners?
Jeff Greenfield: California Vote to Alter Primaries Could Have Huge Impact
Bob Schieffer: Money and Melodrama Shape Primaries
Marc Ambinder: How Did Sen. Blanche Lincoln Pull Victory From the Jaws of Defeat?
Women Win Big on Primary Day
Interactive Map: CBS News Campaign 2010 Race Ratings

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