Review of the Republican runoff

On Tuesday, June 24th, Senator Thad Cochran won the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat he currently occupies.  The nastiest and craziest primary in recent memory apparently deserves an equally crazy ending.  While lobbyist Stuart Stevens wrote that the formula for victory was very simple, a look back at the results is fascinating.  The Stennis Institute remarked, “[T]he turnout for the runoff election exceeded the primary turnout by 20%, which is an astonishing fact.”

National Review echoed the thought with a similar assessment:  “It’s generally agreed that Thad Cochran squeaked out a win in Mississippi last night in part by getting Democrats, especially African Americans, to turn out.”  Harry Enten of FiveThirtyEight completed the exhaustive (and fascinating) data-mining showing how Cochran’s victory correlated to black turn-out and later reported that a Cochran victory was not as implausible as pundits initially predicted.

Mississippi State’s Stennis Institute produced numerous post-runoff maps including the one below.  The colors show the vote difference between the primary and runoff for each county while the elevation shows the voter turnout.

Vote Difference from June 3rd

Change in raw vote numbers from June 3rd primary to the June 24th runoff

Turnout in DeSoto County increased in support of challenger Chris McDaniel but was overshadowed by the dramatic increase in Hinds County in support of Cochran.  The author counted 6 counties that shifted from one candidate to the other but the most significant was in Jackson County which netted more than 700 more votes for Cochran.

Runoff Results by County

However, even in counties held by McDaniel, the change in margin of victory greatly favored Cochran who received a net increase in votes in 48 of the 82 Mississippi counties.  The Stennis Institute’s full analysis with even more maps is provided in “Mississippi Primary Runoff Election, 2014.”

But how did Cochran expand the voter pool to increase turnout and win the Republican nomination?  The days following the election have shown that defining your opponent is critical to energizing potential voters.  Negative and misleading attacks are expected from those across the aisle, but Cochran used the tactic effectively against a member of his own party.  Consider this flyer that was found in traditionally Democrat precincts and posted by National Review:

GOTV Flyer for Thad Cochran

Courtesy of National Review

Like the flyer above, a “robocall” in support of Cochran stated similar positions and even implied that Cochran would not block President Obama’s agenda, a significant point that McDaniel expected would increase his support in the reputedly “deep red” state of Mississippi:

If that wasn’t enough, listen to this clip posted by Breitbart and reportedly aired on WMGO radio warning voters that the Tea Party will take away food stamps and “everything we and our families depend on that comes from Washington will be cut”:

Tea Party Republicans are shocked at the Cochran campaign’s attempt to disparage a fellow Republican Party member.  The election results and campaign tactics demonstrate the divide between establishment and Tea Party Republicans and will likely shape both the ethic and ideology of future campaigns, especially when facing an ideological purist from within one’s own party.

Cochran friend, classmate, and Ole Miss professor Curtis Wilkie, defending Cochran’s campaign in The Last Southern Gentleman, wrote on the day of the runoff, “In a rare sight for a Republican, Thad is openly seeking help in the predominantly black Mississippi Delta in the closing hours of the campaign.”  Bolstering one of McDaniel’s assertions during the campaign that Cochran has never led a conservative fight, Wilkie recalls that “He specialized in agriculture and appropriations and rarely engaged in discussions about heated ‘wedge issues’ such as abortion rights and gun control.”

A week after the election, McDaniel has yet to concede, at least in part, due to reports of voting irregularities which include a 50% increase in voter turn-out in Hinds County.  A June 25th Fox News report summarized:

Of particular interest to the McDaniel campaign was the turnout in Hinds County, which Cochran won by nearly 11,000 votes Tuesday. By contrast, Cochran won the county by 5,300 votes on June 3. Just under 25,000 total ballots were cast in Hinds County Tuesday, while 16,640 total ballots were cast on June 3.

On Fox New Channel’s “Hannity,” McDaniel stated that he intends to verify the number that voted in the June 3rd Democrat primary and illegally voted in the Republican runoff.

For more information:

Cochran declared winner of runoff

The Associated Press declared Sen. Thad Cochran the victor in Mississippi’s heated Republican Primary for the U.S. Senate.  With 99.9% of precincts reporting, Cochran led with 50.8% of the vote and just over 6,000 more votes than Chris McDaniel.  The June 24th runoff was truly remarkable with more than 60,000 votes being cast than in the June 3rd Primary (in an off-year election, no less).

CNN reported, “Cochran’s backers turned to Democrats, especially African-Americans, who make up 37% of the state’s population.”  Breitbart added, “[A]allegations flew that Cochran allies were using ‘walking around money’ to incentivize Democrats to the polls.  Democratic Party Chairman Rickey Cole, for instance, said Cochran operatives were paying people in the black community to donate to Cochran.”  Such reports may inspire a McDaniel challenge since anyone who voted in the June 3rd Democrat Primary are ineligible to vote in the Republican runoff in accordance with state law (Mississippi Code § 23-15-575).

In accordance with Mississippi Code § 23-15-599, the Republican Party must certify the primary election vote by July 4th (within 10 Days of the election).

For more information:

Do Democrats and Republicans represent differing views on the role of government?

With Mississippi’s 2014 Primary Elections on June 3rd, consider a quote from one of President Bill Clinton’s mentors.  Carroll Quigley wrote the following in his 1966 book Tragedy and Hope:

The chief problem of American political life for a long time has been how to make the two Congressional parties more national and international.  The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to doctrinaire and academic thinkers.  Instead the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can “throw the rascals out” at any election without leading to any profound or extensive shifts in policy.  The policies that are vital and necessary for America are no longer subjects of significant disagreement, but are disputable only in details of procedure, priority, or method. . .  Then it should be possible to replace it, every four years if necessary, by the other party, which will be none of these things but will still pursue, with new vigor, approximately the same basic policies.

Is your candidate really different or just a little more or less of what is already in elected office?  Is that what you want?  Our country must to return to the principles that made our country the greatest on the earth.  We need revival. . . in the church house AND in the state house.  Make your vote count!

Sun Herald’s Hampton declares Tea Party Dead. . . maybe

In his May 24th Sun Herald opinion “Up to our necks in mud – and sinking in the Mississippi Senate race,” Paul Hampton attempted to write the epitaph for the Tea Party tombstone.   “But it’s clear 2010 was a fluke and this party is over.  Of course, you could make the argument the party isn’t over — the Tea Party has just ‘purified’ the GOP.  You know, sort of like when the Democrats lurched to the left and its more conservative members jumped ship.”

Then comes the following tweet from Paul Gallo:

To put it a bit more clearly, Sen. Thad Cochran is running the same campaign a Democrat would use to defeat Chris McDaniel and there is nothing that Cochran has done that the Democrats can run against!  So much for “purification.”

With Republicans continuing to be “Democrat-light,” conservative groups within the party will always attempt to reform it.  Existing campaign finance laws have made that a certainty.

For more information:

 

 

Busy week ahead for 4th District Candidates

With the Mississippi Primary Elections one week away, candidates will be extra busy getting their messages out.  The race for the state’s 4th Congressional District has been overshadowed by the negative and heated race for U.S. Senate.  However, the two favorites, Steven Palazzo and Gene Taylor, appear to be in a close race as well.

Taylor continues to bash Palazzo for his support of Biggert-Waters Act (which reformed flood insurance), voting against Hurricane Sandy Relief, while blaming him for recent defense cuts and a failure to hold town hall meetings.  Taylor emphasizes that he has always had traditional Mississippi values and that his party change only reflects that the Democrat Party left him, not the other way around.

Palazzo has been running on his record that earned him recognition as the most conservative member of the U.S. Congress from Mississippi.  Meanwhile, he has been busy painting Taylor as a liberal Democrat who supported Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), voted countless times for trillions in spending and the liberal agenda, and switched parties only because Democrats are not electable in the state.

The Sun Herald reports that the candidacies of Tom Carter, Ron Vincent, and Tavish Kelly may draw enough conservative votes away from Palazzo to force a run-off.  Although he says he hasn’t done any polling, Taylor is predicting the same.  Outsiders Carter, Vincent, and Kelly continue to say that neither Palazzo nor Taylor will do enough to cut spending and shrink the national debt.  At least Taylor has admitted as much saying that “Mississippi needs those federal dollars.”

In what likely amounts to an inconsequential race, Democrats Matt Moore and Trish Causey have been pushing their agendas of LGBT and women’s rights, equal pay.

For more information:

McDaniel turns tables on Cochran

Chris McDaniel attempted to focus the Republican U.S. Senate race on the real issues and differences by announcing his support for Sen. Mike Lee’s (R-UT) Conservative Reform Agenda last week.  Sen. Lee announced his conservative reform agenda last fall which focuses on welfare, education, energy, and right-to-work reforms.

At the announcement, a Thad Cochran aide attempted to derail the release by accusing McDaniel of lying.  McDaniel skillfully responded to the criticisms by calling for Cochran to debate, a proposal the Senator has refused.

The mud-slinging only increased in the wake of the announcement, a likely sign that internal polling is showing a very close race between the incumbent and challenger.

Human Events picked-up on the most recent accusations and documents the attempt to link McDaniel to the recent crimes of a deranged independent blogger despite there being no evidence of a connection.  The left-leaning blogs Daily Kos and Talking Points Memo echoed a report in the Clarion-Ledger attempting to add fuel to the unfounded charges.

For more information:

Tea Party candidates winning

Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) promised to “crush them everywhere” but Tea Party candidates are still winning elections.  Despite the establishment GOP’s recent claims of  victory over the Tea Party, both West Virginia and Nebraska elected Tea Party candidates on Tuesday. 

Breitbart reports that the focus will now turn to Mississippi’s June 3rd primary where Tea Party-backed Chris McDaniel is in a dead heat with 36-year incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran. 

McDaniel has used Cochran’s long tenure in the U.S. Senate to draw contrasts with his opponent.  In the Sun Herald, McDaniel says he does not want to represent Mississippi simply to get along but to fix Washington, DC.  And that can only happen with new leadership that knows they work for the people and then fights to create a more responsive government.

And McDaniel vows to fight.  He says he will fight Obamacare, the federal debt, party politics and the political aristocracy, and the national dependence on federal spending. 

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