Today's primary day is the biggest of the 2010 election season so far, and you can keep up with all the latest developments live on this page. Keep checking back for live updates, scroll down for the latest conversation on Twitter, and find primary election photos here.
(AP/Huffington Post): With polls showing a sullen electorate voters in nearly a dozen states headed to the polls on Tuesday to choose candidates for Congress and governors' offices. Arkansas voters were set to choose between Sen. Blanche Lincoln and her opponent, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, in a Democratic runoff for a U.S. Senate seat.
Californians are deciding whether to lead the fall GOP ticket with a pair of wealthy businesswomen campaigning on a promise to cut spending, and tea party activists tested their muscle in Nevada, backing Sharron Angle in a multi-candidate race to select a Republican opponent against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in a state where unemployment was 13.7 percent in April.
Updates from across the country:
12:15 AM ET -- Carly Fiorina Will Take On Barbara Boxer: Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina has won California's GOP primary for U.S. Senate, setting up a general election battle this fall with three-term Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer.
The 55-year-old Fiorina rolled to victory Tuesday after a campaign that focused on convincing conservatives she is one of them -- opposing abortion, gay marriage and steps the government has taken to prop up the economy. Boxer was unopposed for the Democratic nomination.
11:45 PM ET -- Whitman Wins In California: Meg Whitman, the billionaire former chief executive of eBay, easily won the race for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, setting up a general election contest against former Gov. Jerry Brown. Whitman took a large lead in the polls in the final weeks of the campaign after a negative ad war over which Republican was the most conservative.
The contest was the most expensive primary in California history, with Whitman spending more than $81 million and state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner spending $25 million. Whitman, who has never before run for elective office, is the first woman to win the Republican nomination for governor in California. Brown, governor from 1975-83, was unopposed in the Democratic primary.
11:30 PM ET -- Branstad Wins In Iowa: Republicans have nominated former Gov. Terry Branstad to run against Democratic Gov. Chet Culver in Iowa. Branstad defeated Sioux City businessman Bob Vander Plaats and state Rep. Rod Roberts of Carroll to claim the Republican nomination and a bid for a fifth term in office. Branstad served as governor from 1983 to 1999.
11:20 PM ET -- Scandal-Plagued Nevada Gov Ousted In Primary: Former U.S. District Court Judge Brian Sandoval defeated incumbent Gov. Jim Gibbons in Nevada's Republican gubernatorial race Tuesday night.
Gibbons had been considered a long-shot to win his party's nomination for a second term, after trailing badly in polls and finances to Sandoval. The 65-year-old Gibbons has been dogged by political missteps and personal problems, including a nasty public divorce and allegations of infidelities. An uncompromising, hard-line stance against taxes and the federal government alienated even members of his own party as the state faces a possible $3 billion budget shortfall going into the 2011 legislative session.
The 46-year-old Sandoval was a moderate when he served the state Assembly. He's also former chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission and former attorney general.
11:05 PM PM ET -- Lincoln WINS In Arkansas: Embattled Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln narrowly won her quest for nomination to a new term in the U.S. Senate Tuesday night, fighting off a challenge from labor-backed rival, Bill Halter, as well as an anti-establishment tide in an Arkansas runoff.
In her victory speech on Tuesday night, Lincoln said that the voters of the state had sent a message: That "the vote of this senator is not for sale."
UPDATE: Some very harsh words from an unnamed senior White House official on the results of the Arkansas race in a post from Politico's Ben Smith: "Organized labor just flushed $10 million of its members' money down the toilet in a pointless exercise." More here.
10:15 PM ET -- Primary Results: For an overview of results from tonight's' races -- major and minor -- click here.
9:50 PM ET -- Runoff In S.C.: Nikki Haley has weathered unsubstantiated claims of physical relationships with two men to advance to a Republican primary runoff with U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett. Haley nearly won Tuesday's primary outright, but fell just short of the majority needed to avoid the June 22 runoff. The winner will face Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen in November.
Dispatch from CNN's Peter Hamby: @hambypCNN: Music at Haley HQ: Twisted Sister, "We're not gonna take it."
UPDATE: Nick Ayers, the executive director of the Republican Governors Association, issued a statement on the race:
"The voters of South Carolina made a clear choice in Nikki Haley, notwithstanding the possibility of a runoff. The outcome is all but certain.
"Nikki Haley withstood a barrage of innuendoes and slurs in the closing days of the primary season and persevered to the finish with dignity, determination and confidence. Moreover, receiving half of the votes against two other statewide incumbent Republicans and a sitting Congressman speaks volumes of her strength as a candidate and bodes very well for her in the General Election. We congratulate Nikki for her grit and determination."
9:45 PM ET -- Trouble For Halter? Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight sees trouble brewing for Bill Halter in Arkansas. According to a breakdown of counties with a decent number of precincts reporting, his performance tonight is lagging far behind that of the original May 18 primary.
From the FiveThirtyEight blog:
Columbia: won by 17 in May, leads by 12 tonight.
Conway: won by 5 in May, leads by 2 tonight.
Ouchita: tied the country in May, trailing by 8 points tonight
Saline: lost by 2 points in May, losing by 6 tonight
Baxter: here's some better news for Halter ... won by 2 in May, winning by 12 tonight
Calhoun: won by 17 points in May, leads by 16 points tonight.
Scott: won by 12 in may, leading by 4 tonight.
9:05 PM ET -- DNC Says GOP Hijacked By Tea Party: Whatever the outcome, the GOP will be the loser of Tuesday's primary elections, the DNC writes in a memo released on election night that is all about posturing in advance of midterm elections in November.
According to a memo from Brad Woodhouse, Communications Director for the DNC, the Republican Party "is being pulled so far towards the right wing fringe most Americans can't recognize it anymore." Woodhouse goes on to say that the Tea Party's influence within the GOP "has produced a slate of unattractive general election candidates, a trend that seems bound to continue today."
8:40 PM ET -- An Early Look At Meg Whitman's Victory Speech: How's this for electoral confidence: California GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman plans to call her opponent Steve Poizner "gracious" in defeat according to a snippet from her victory speech that a San Francisco Chronicle reporter got an early look at:
"Thank you so much ... What a great night! This victory is yours! I just received a very gracious phone call from Steve Poizner conceding the race."
8:30 PM ET -- Early Look At S.C. Results: Analysis from uber election prognosticator Larry Sabato, professor at the University of Virginia: @LarrySabato: "Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer (R-SC) is going bye for a while, and I don't need a lie detector to prove it. 13%, dead last, R GOV."
8:15 PM ET -- Harry Reid Already Gaming Out General Election: Even before polls closed in Nevada Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid quietly began to mount a campaign strategy to defeat his likely GOP challenger, Sharron Angle, in November.
According to Hotline on Call, Reid campaign aides spent the past weekend thoroughly researching Angle, while the Las Vegas Review Journal on election day reported on signals from the Nevada Democrat's re-election team that seemed to suggest she would emerge the GOP nomination.
Reid campaign manager Brandon Hall told the Review that Angle offers "dangerous ideas," reviving a similar characterization recently echoed by the Senate Majority Leader's camp that painted the GOP hopeful as "a female Rand Paul."
8:00 PM ET -- Some Golden State Voters 'Disgusted': Some Democrat and Republican voters in California said they were "disgusted" by the campaigns waged by Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner, according to a dispatch from the Sacramento Bee.
On GOP voter said: "Both Whitman and Poizner supported Gore and Boxer. There's no way you can be a conservative and support Al Gore."
Another voter was upset by the numbers of calls he received. "I just disconnected my house phone," Raymond Rodriguez told the Bee. "I understand the enthusiasm to get elected, but it's just annoying."
7:45 PM ET -- Let's Get This Party Started: Though only some will win, candidates around the country have planned "victory parties" tonight. Here's an overview:
South Carolina Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley has taken some heat for holding her primary night festivities at the Capital City Club, a high-brow, exclusive, members-only establishment in downtown Columbia. Her opponent, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, has chosen the Copper River Grill in Greenville as his venue.
In Nevada, the Clark County Republicans have secured the ballroom of the Orleans Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas to hold the GOP victory party, an event that they say will include all candidates. GOP Senate candidate Sharron Angle, who has ridden a wave of Tea Party support to the peak of the polls, plans to be in attendance, according to her campaign website.
Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, who may be poised to topple current Sen. Blanche Lincoln for the Democratic Senate nomination, has made reservations at The Peabody Hotel in Little Rock for his victory party. Sen. Blanche Lincoln's shindig will take place at Next Level Events, a "private events facility" in downtown Little Rock.
In California, former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, who maintains a strong lead in her GOP California gubernatorial primary, will be hosting a victory party at the Hilton in Universal City, while her opponent, California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, will be holding his party at a rival Hilton in Irvine. Democrat Jerry Brown, who was uncontested in his race, is celebrating at Club Nokia in downtown Los Angeles.
California Republican Senate candidates are having parties of their own, with Tea Party-backed Assemblyman Chuck Devore throwing a reception at the Tustin Banquet Center in Tustin, former Rep. Tom Campbell hosting supporters at the San Jose Fairmont Hotel, and former HP CEO Carly Fiorina, the favorite heading into Tuesday, planning to celebrate at the Anaheim Hilton with the California Republican Party.
7:30 PM ET -- Two More Hours To Go In Arkansas: The degree to which Arkansas' highly contentious runoff between Sen. Blanche Lincoln and primary challenger Bill Halter for the state's Democratic Senate nomination spurred voter turnout remained unclear Tuesday in the hours leading up to polls closing.
As of 4 p.m 67,981 votes had reportedly been cast at early-voting locations or submitted through absentee ballots; however, according to Politico, Arkansas election officials could not offer any estimates on how many people were hitting the polls across the state before votes were in and set to be tallied.
Twenty-nine percent of the 1.6 million registered voters in Arkansas came out to the polls on May 18 when the Lincoln-Halter match-up headed into a runoff after neither candidate managed to capture 50 percent of voter support.
7:00 PM ET -- Turnout In South Carolina: With polls closing in South Carolina, officials say voter turnout in the state has been low to moderate so far. But the State Election Commission says that voting Tuesday has been heavier in some counties. If absentee voting is any indication, officials say turnout should run ahead of 2006 levels. Any runoff elections will be held June 22.
6:45 PM ET -- Whitman Already Planning A Victory Lap: Banking on an election night win, California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman intends to waste no time starting a victory lap. On Thursday, Whitman plans to announce "her vision for a new California" in San Jose, according to an San Francisco Chronicle reports that the measure is a signal to Democratic candidate Jerry Brown that she will not rest on her march to the general election in November.
6:15 -- The Voice Of Palin: Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has lent her voice to California GOP Senate candidate Carly Fiorina's campaign, cutting a robocall that has been ringing the phones of California voters for the past few days.
A spokeswoman for the Fiorina campaign has confirmed the call to CNN, which reports that Palin says in the call that a vote for Fiorina is a vote to "...help get our country back on track."
6:05 PM ET -- Have You Voted? If you're one of the millions of Americans whose states are holding primaries today and are wondering whether you still have time to vote, here's your answer:
Poll Closing Times:
Arkansas - 8:30 PM
California -11:00 PM
Georgia - 7:00 PM
Iowa - 10:00 PM
Maine - 8:00 PM
Montana - 10:00 PM
Nevada - 10:00 PM
New Jersey - 8:00 PM
North Dakota - 8:00 & 9:00 PM
South Carolina - 7:00 PM
South Dakota - 8:00 & 9:00 PM
Virginia - 7:00 PM
6:00 PM ET -- California's Big Spenders: The Golden State has seen it's share of CEO candidates and this year's crop may be among the biggest spenders. Former eBay chief executive Meg Whitman (running for the GOP gubernatorial nomination) has spent $81 million so far, all but about $10 million of it from her own bank account. Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina (running for the GOP Senate nomination) has not spent anywhere near what Whitman has, but reports say she has dumped $5 million of her own fortune into the primary campaign. State Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner (running against Whitman for governor) a wealthy Silicon Valley entrepreneur, has spent $25 million.
5:45 PM ET-- Closing Words In Arkansas: After voting Tuesday at his polling place in North Little Rock, Arkansas Lt. Gov Bill Halter, who is vying to defeat Sen. Blanche Lincoln in the Democratic primary for a U.S. Senate seat, said he expects the runoff to be close but he still hoped to improve his vote total in every county over the May primary.
"I think that's why everybody's vote matters so much," said Halter, who planned to talk to voters until the polls close at 7:30 p.m.
Lincoln, who has been attacked by both the left and the right on issues such as health care, defended her Senate votes, saying groups from Arkansas have criticized her because she has tried to work with both parties.
"There are very few who come out on the battleground and dare to say, 'Where is the common ground? Where do we solve these problems?' One of the reasons I've been beat up is I've gotten out of that foxhole. I'm out here in the middle," Lincoln said after voting in west Little Rock Tuesday afternoon.
5:30 PM ET -- Schwarzenegger's Ballot Blunder: Poll worker Keta Hodgson says a scanning machine rejected [California Gov. Arnold] Schwarzenegger's first ballot Tuesday because he selected two Senate candidates, instead of one. Hodgson says the Republican governor was given the choice of filling out a new ballot or not having his Senate choice count. He cast a fresh ballot."
5:00 PM ET -- Will The Polls Be Right? With just hours left to vote in the dozen states holding primary election today, here's a look at the latest pre-Election Day public opinion polls in several key races:
California GOP Senate Primary
Carly Fiorina 37%
Tom Campbell 22%
Chuck DeVore 19%
Arkansas Democratic Senate Runoff
(Research 2000/Daily Kos)
Bill Halter 49%
Blanche Lincoln 45%
Iowa GOP Governor's Primary
(Des Moines Register)
Terry Branstad 57%
Bob Vander Plaats 29%
Rod Roberts 8%
Nevada GOP Senate Primary
(Las Vegas Review Journal/Mason Dixon)
Sharron Angle 32%
Danny Tarkanian 24%
Sue Lowden 23%
Nevada GOP Governor's Primary
(Las Vegas Review Journal/Mason Dixon)
Brian Sandoval 47%
Jim Gibbons 33%
South Carolina GOP Governor's Primary
Nikki Haley 43%
J. Gresham Barrett 23%
Henry McMaster 16%
Andre Bauer 12%