Super Tuesday: Ladies' Night or the GOP's New Diversity Strategy?

Poised to become the country's first Indian-American female governor, Nikki Haley is Tuesday's biggest story. But that's about the only clear consensus coming out of this week's primaries.

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The consensus emerging from Tuesday's primaries is that there's no real consensus.

Newsweek's Jonathan Alter called it for women: ''With only six women governors, 16 women senators, and 74 women in the House, female candidates are fresher for voters looking for change.'' TIME's Jay Newton-Small says pragmatism won: ''If Washington wasn't quite the winner tonight, the big loser certainly was ideological purity.''

California Republicans chose Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina as their candidates for governor and U.S. Senate. It's a gender milestone of sorts, but not really--the Golden State already has two sitting women senators.

Incumbent Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln used strong backing from Bill Clinton to beat back an organized labor-financed primary challenge from Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, while Tea Party upstart and former Nevada state legislator Sharron Angle beat better-known State Sen. Sue Lowden for the right to take on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

No single trend in the 2010 election cycle is dominant. It's still too early for Republicans to feel secure about dramatically shifting the balance of power in Congress, and too early for entrenched Democrats to pack it in. Here's three things to watch for next:

Haley's Comet?

Just a week after South Carolina State Sen. Jake Knotts called her a ''raghead,'' South Carolina State Rep. Nikki Haley convincingly won the Republican gubernatorial race.

Haley, only 38, has the most potential to flip the long-term political script--not just because she's a woman--but because she'd be the nation's second Indian-American governor. Like Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Haley is a conservative Republican from the Deep South. Like Jindal--who converted from Hinduism to Catholicism--Haley was a Sikh who's now Methodist. Unlike Jindal, Haley got a timely endorsement from Sarah Palin, and is, according to the Washington Post's Kathleen Parker, a ''rising star'' in the GOP.

Governor eBay?

Socially conservative Fiorina, ousted as Hewlett-Packard's CEO in 2005, beat moderate former Congressman Tom Campbell for the Republican U.S. Senate slot. Now she'll face off against incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer in the fall. Fiorina's private sector cred was apparently part of her appeal, but she was shut down by Sen. John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign after saying "I don't think John McCain could run a major corporation."

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