MOD GOP HOLD
The first questions seems to be the easiest to answer. At the moment, McDaniel's supporters are motivated and are much more likely to return to the polls for the run-off. The run-off electorate will be farther to the right than last night's primary. The common consensus is that McDaniel will become the nominee of the Mississippi Republican party.
The second question is a little less clear. Can a Democrat really be competitive statewide for the first time in the state since 1982? How red really is Mississippi? Where does Childers fall on the ideological map? Can the Democratic party overcome the inherent turnout disadvantage in a midterm election? Well, let us take a look at the Mississippi electorate:
- Without campaigning in the state, President Obama received 43.79% of the vote in Mississippi in 2012.
- In a March Rasmussen survey: 37% have a favorable view of Childers compared to a 42% for McDaniel and a 60% for Cochran.
- In the same poll, 35% have a favorable opinion of the health care law. 33% had an unfavorable view of the Tea Party. The President has a 44% approval rating in the state. This same poll gave McDaniel a 12 point edge over Childers. A large 21% were undecided or for a third candidate.
- The last Presidential Candidate to win Mississippi as a Democrat was Jimmy Carter in 1976.
- Since that poll seemed to over estimate the chance of Cochran beating McDaniel: It may be wise to look at the other public poll that shows Cochran in jeopardy of losing the nomination, which it looks like he will.
- The other poll was from PPP in November. This poll have McDaniel just a 3 point lead over Childers. It gave Obama a slightly lower approval rating (42%).
- The two polls were essentially equal in sampling of White vs. Black voters. Rasmussen 63-33 and PPP 62-32.
- The Cook PVI for the state is R +9. This makes Mississippi the 17th most Republican state in the union. So Mississippi is Red, but far from the most red states in the union: Utah and Wyoming at R +22.
One question seems to be: How gaff-prone is McDaniel? Well, the accusations of speaking to neo-confederate groups and opposing Hurricane Katrina relief are possible liabilities. or when he said“Mamacita works….I’m an English-speaking Anglo. I have no idea what it means, actually, but I’ve said it a few times, just for, you know, fun. And I think it basically means, ‘Hey, hot mama.’ Or, you know, ‘You’re a fine looking young thing.’”
Is he too far to the right for Mississippi? Well... yes and no. If his narrative works anywhere, it would work in Mississippi. Opposing Katrina aid COULD be a major liability in the coastal counties. That might be one of the points where he crosses over into being "too far right" for even Mississippi.
The opponent for McDaniel is a very conservative southern Democrat. Childers is pro-gun rights, against gay marriage, and against Obamacare. The problem here might be: will his lack of liberal credentials discourage enough Democrats from showing up to overcome the moderate Republicans and independents that will be be turned off by McDaniel's rhetoric.
The rest of the primary will also be a factor. Will Cochran come out on the anti-McDaniel offensive to try and save his political career? This could damage McDaniel for the fall. What will come of the scandal involving four McDaniel supporters now facing felony charges? Will Childers be able to regain his support int he more moderate northern counties, turn out the black vote and peal enough away from the coastal counties?
This race is, at the very least, marginally more competitive than it was before. This means the GOP will have to spend at least some time and money here that they didn't already expect to have to. Every minute and dollar spent on Mississippi for the GOP is a minute and dollar that they cannot spend in states like Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Alaska, Arkansas and other races. I am giving McDaniel the edge in the race by 8.8% at the moment (with limited polling). The wild card here might be less if the Democrats can pick up this seat, and more of how much in resources will this take away from the GOP in more competitive races?