Reading the tea leaves: The hottest primaries heading to the midterms

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Get your wonk on, political junkies. University of Virginia professor Larry J. Sabato offers up a smart look at the hottest primaries leading up to November's midterm elections in Politico Magazine.

Sabato's take is whether the Tea Party can sustain its power. His conclusion on the primaries: "Probably the most far-reaching lesson will be taught by the five Tea Party challenges to GOP Senate incumbents remaining in Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee. Maybe a couple more Republican senators will be thrown overboard, proving the durability of the party's insurgent right wing," Sabato writes.

"But then again, perhaps all of the challenges will fail—the current bet among top Republican strategists. If so, the establishment wing of the party will say that GOP voters have learned a lesson about compromise and pragmatism, and they will see this as a good omen for the selection of an electable presidential nominee in 2016."

In the end, Sabato concludes that primaries are highly imperfect predictors of general elections. But, at the same time, they shouldn't be ignored.