Primary Day: Five storylines to watch in Indiana, Ohio and North Carolina

Chris Cillizza, The Washington Post

Voters in Indiana, Ohio and North Carolina head to the polls today — the first major primary day of the 2010 election season. Below are five storylines to keep an eye on in that trio of states as the votes get counted tonight.

1. Ohio ‘Mo or No: Ohio Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher has been one of the biggest disappointments of this election so far for Senate Democrats. He has struggled badly to distance himself from badly underfunded Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner in the primary and has woefully underperformed in his own fundraising as well.

But, a Quinnipiac poll released Monday showed Fisher with a 43 percent to 23 percent edge over Brunner, suggesting that the lieutenant governor was headed to a relatively pedestrian win today.

A convincing victory — along the margins that the Q poll suggests — could give Fisher a bit of badly-needed momentum as he moves into the general election against former Rep. Rob Portman (R).

Despite Fisher’s struggles, polling puts him even or slightly ahead of Portman — a trend line that has to be encouraging for Democrats. Fisher needs to show that he has fixed the problems that plagued his campaign for much of 2009 and the best way to do that is to put a big number on the board tonight.

2. Wither DeMint: South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint (R) has drawn massive amounts of national media attention for his willingness to cross his party leadership when it comes to endorsing in contested primaries.

DeMint’s “go it alone” approach to primaries gets its first real test today as conservative state Sen. Marlin Stutzman seeks to unseat establishment-backed favorite Dan Coats, a former senator.

Expecting Stutzman to win after the DeMint endorsement may be too high a bar — after all, Stutzman was dead in the water before DeMint endorsed him last week — but if he finishes third (behind Coats and former Rep. John Hostettler) it won’t be a great moment for the South Carolina Republican.

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