How big a mid-course correction?; Mixed signals from Rockies voters
In the Intermountain West - the heart of Reagan country - voters sent no clear signal of support or opposition to the White House.
An area that includes Colorado, Montana, North and South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming, and Nevada elected three Republicans and two Democrats to the Senate. In Nevada a Democratic seat moved to the GOP side when incumbent Howard W. Cannon lost to Chic Hecht in a close race. The region will send nine Republicans and seven Democrats to the US House.
While divided on its congressional delegation, people in the Rocky Mountain States did uphold their penchant for electing Democratic governors with the landslide win in Colorado of environmentalist incumbent Richard D. Lamm; the reelection of -Wyoming rancher--patriarch Ed Herschler; and the replacement of Nevada GOP incumbent Robert F. List, who had developed a reputation for inaccessibility and indecisiveness, with Richard H. Bryan. Only South Dakota retained its GOP incumbent - Gov. William J. Janklow, who is considered an unorthodox but effective administrator.
In races that most clearly represented a liberal-conservative choice, voters here upheld their tradition of sending the latter to Washington. Conservative Rep. Ken Kramer of Republican Colorado Springs fended off the challenge of his liberal adversary, Tom Cronin. In Nevada, Republican Barbara Vucanovich, an aide to Sen. Paul Laxalt, won a House seat by a comfortable margin over Mary Gojack, who campaigned against Reaganomics. In Wyoming, incumbent Sen. Malcolm Wallop beat liberal opponent Rodger McDaniel, but by a surprisingly small margin, which reflected his belated awakening to the political effect of Reagan wilderness and environment policies in his state.
But in some races where liberals were targeted by the National Conservative Political Action Committee (NCPAC), there may have been a backlash. North Dakota incumbent Democratic Sen. Quentin N. Burdick won by a landslide over Republican Gene Knorr. And Montana Democratic Sen. John Melcher was a 15-point victor over Republican Larry Williams.