The New York Times reported today the “unusual assist” from Democrats for incumbent Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran in the Republican primary runoff against Tea Party-supported challenger and state senator Chris McDaniel. Cochran won the runoff last night over McDaniel by just more than 6000 votes out of about 375,000 votes cast state-wide in the GOP runoff.
“With an unusual assist from African-American voters and other Democrats who feared his opponent, Senator Thad Cochran on Tuesday beat back a spirited challenge from State Senator Chris McDaniel, triumphing in a Republican runoff and defeating the Tea Party in the state where the movement’s hopes were bright,” the New York Times reported last night.
Cochran campaigned the last three weeks seeking votes from Democrats to compete against McDaniel after winning 49.0 percent to McDaniel's 49.5 percent on June 3 in the initial primary vote for the senate seat. “Mr. Cochran, who is seeking his seventh term, used the past three weeks to turn out Democratic voters — especially African-Americans — to make up that deficit,” the New York Times reported.
Rush Limbaugh reported an analysis published on Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight site on the Mississippi primary runoff result on his radio broadcast today, that “without the African-American votes” from Democratic areas of the state, Cochran would have lost to McDaniel by eight or night percent. In that analysis cited by Limbaugh, Harry Enten of FiveThirtyEight analyzed the effect of the increased African-American turnout last night, and calculated that without that increased turnout, “Cochran loses a lot of votes. Instead of Cochran winning the runoff by 2 points, or about 6,000 votes, he loses by a little less than 8 points, or about 25,000 votes.” Limbaugh opined, “this gave Thad Cochran a corrupt and undeserved victory.” It is likely the polling firms polling this race did not predict the large turnout of African-American voters for Cochran. “It's unreal the level of black turnout in a Republican Primary,” Limbaugh stated.
The polls indicated a likely win by McDaniel of about eight percent in last night's primary runoff vote. McDaniel lead by a 52 percent to 44 percent margin in a survey by Democrat-leaning polling firm Chism Strategies. McDaniel also lead in the last Real Clear Politics average of polls for the race by a margin of 49.3 percent to 43.0 percent for Cochran. The 50.9 percent of the runoff primary vote received by Cochran is 7.9 percent higher than the final RCP average for Cochran.
The turnout last night was higher for both candidates than the June 3 initial primary results. Cochran tallied 153,654 votes in the primary on June 3 and gained an additional 37,181 in the runoff last night. McDaniel also gained 29,424 more votes last night than he received on June 3, but overall he fell short by 6,371 votes.
McDaniel is not conceding the race and plans to challenge the results, The Clarion-Ledger reported this morning. “But McDaniel didn't concede Tuesday night and in a speech to supporters referenced "dozens of irregularities" in voting Tuesday and indicated he would challenge the results over Democrats voting in the Republican primary,” The Clarion-Ledger reported.