The polls were primary races to decide party tickets, and give little indication about how the scandal around President Bill Clinton has affected the political climate in America.
Geraldine Ferraro, the only woman to be nominated for the office of vice-president, lost the Democratic primary for the New York Senate race to Charles Schumer, who had spent a record $8m. He will now face Alfonse D'Amato, the Republican considered to be one of the most vulnerable in the Senate. Ms Ferraro was chosen by Walter Mondale in 1984 as running mate, but his campaign against then-President Ronald Reagan collapsed.
Marion Barry, the controversial mayor of Washington, had decided against standing for the post this year. Mr Barry has dominated the city politics of Washington for two decades as mayor, interrupted by a spell in jail for cocaine possession. His fall from grace was followed by a spectacular repentance and recovery.
The victor in the Democratic primary was Anthony Williams, a bow-tied accountant who had trumped all of his more experienced political rivals. Mr Williams is credited with restoring some fiscal sanity to Washington. In a city where most of the population votes Democrat, he is thought almost certain to win the mayor's office in elections in November.
Mr Williams is the new face of black politics: managerial, moderate and polished. Mr Barry was radical and confrontational, a veteran of the civil rights struggle.
In other races, Hubert Humphrey III, son of a former vice-president, will carry the Democratic banner in Minnesota against Republican Norm Coleman in the November gubernatorial race. In Massachusetts, Thomas Reilly, a key figure in the prosecution of the British au pair Louise Woodward, beat off a rival to snatch the nomination for the post of state attorney general, a sign that his handling of the case won him political plaudits.
The primaries offered a grim insight into the political education of voters. Jacquelyn Ledgerwood polled a quarter of the votes in a race to decide who will represent the Democrats in November's Senate race. Mrs Ledgerwood died months ago, but too late for her name to be taken off voting cards. Some 39,000 people either did not know, or preferred the dead over the living.