The circumstances surrounding his downfall were unique to Utah with its state convention process, yet there was an unmistakable message to incumbents on both sides of the aisle: This is no ordinary year, and the ordinary, time-honored methods of winning votes may not be enough.

For Republicans who are measuring the drapes in anticipation of reclaiming power, Bennett’s loss should be sobering. If the anti-Washington and tea party winds keep blowing this strong, some of them could be measuring their own political graves…

The rejection of the three-term senator by the conservative core of his party also signaled that the seniority and backroom clout that incumbents once wielded as a sword and shield offered no protection. If anything, in Bennett’s case it proved to be a detriment.