US Senate MS GOP Primary Runoff Postmortem: Answers to Our Own Questions
On Monday, we offered suggestions on where the GOP Senate Runoff race would be decided. Below is our analysis based on (unofficial) county vote totals. To borrow a boxing metaphor, McDaniel won several early rounds in this title fight, landing blows that staggered the incumbent and scored a couple of knockdowns. But in the end, Cochran had the better corner - his cut man was skilled, his trainers convinced him to make adjustments between rounds and he won on points in the late rounds. This was a split decision in what promoters first anticipated as an early round knockout for the champ.
Q: Could McDaniel repeat an 85% win in his home county of Jones?
A: Almost. McDaniel’s force was once again very impressive, but Team Cochran’s cut the net deficit from the primary by about 180 votes.
Q: With no 4th CD runoff, could McDaniel’s 2,500 lead in Pearl River County hold?
A: Absolutely. In fact, this was an even bitter source of votes for McDaniel in the runoff.
Q: Could Cochran’s ground game cut the 25% margin loss in the Memphis suburbs of DeSoto County?
A: Nope. McDaniel almost doubled his margins there.
Q: Would the doomsday messaging about the shipyards lead to a McDaniel collapse in Jackson County?
A: Not really. Cochran’s gains in Jackson County were offset by McDaniel’s win in another Gulf Coast community, Hancock County.
Q: Could the Governor do better than a tie in his own back yard in Rankin County?
A: Yes, but not by much. Rankin posted an additional 800 vote advantage for Cochran.
Rounds for Cochran
Q: Would Scooby Doo come to the rescue in Hinds County?
A: Yes - Scooby, Shaggy and Thelma, too. Early indications are that African Americans and nervous white, moderate voters boosted the Cochran advantage here by about 6,000 votes.
Q: Could the Cochran team build upon their small margins in Washington County and elsewhere in Farm Country?
A: Yes, in a big way. This Delta field plan may have been the most impressive aspect of the Cochran turnaround, if not in numbers but in organization and execution.
Q: Would the deluge of online and TV ads about McDaniel’s hostility to education funding cost him the advantage in Forrest County where USM is located?
A: Yes. Cochran turned around the Forrest County margins by about 700 votes.
Team Cochran spent unprecedented sums on TV, online and social media to scare the hell out of moderates. It worked. They also managed a very impressive GOTV effort with the aid of several African American elected officials and political operatives. The final dollars-per-vote tallies will rival presidential spending in swing states. And Team Cochran tactics are not without a price among previously loyal Republican voters. This was a very costly win for the GOP establishment.