The Rhode Island effect

The potential impact of today’s Republican primary for United States Senate in Rhode Island on New Jersey politics: if incumbent Lincoln Chafee loses the GOP primary to conservative Steven Laffey, both parties will view the seat as already won by the Democratic nominee, Sheldon Whitehouse. That will allow both national parties to drop Rhode Island from their target list — which means more money to spend on the U.S. Senate race between Bob Menendez and Tom Kean, Jr. If Chafee wins renomination, both parties will spend heavily to win this seat in a state where campaigns don’t cost nearly as much as they do in a state split between the expensive New York and Philadelphia media markets.

The Rhode Island effect