Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Election 2014 Handicapping: Is Mississippi on the November Map?

 The short answer is "not yet ... but it may show up there."

If either Thad Cochran or Chris McDaniel had really romped in yesterday's Republican primary for US Senate, it would probably be a done deal: Democratic nominee Travis Childers would have run a credible but obviously losing campaign just to "show the flag" (so far the best he's polled against either GOP candidate is 38%, and that was early on).

But Cochran and McDaniel mauled each other in yesterday's primary, neither one of them hitting the 50% mark to avoid a runoff three weeks from now. And they are presumably going to spend the next three weeks gouging each others' eyes out, metaphorically (?) speaking.

Let's take a quick look back at 2012. Incumbent US Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) didn't look very promising for re-election. She really only had one chance, and that was for US Representative Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin (R-MO) to win the GOP primary.

McCaskill actually ran ads for Todd Akin, extolling his conservative virtues and so forth. Akin won his primary and McCaskill won re-election.

Yes, Mississippi is different. It's different in two ways:

  1. Childers isn't as well-positioned to beat a weak GOP candidate as McCaskill was; but
  2. Childers has an opportunity to hit the GOP in a weak spot regardless of who wins the runoff.
If Cochran manages it, he's an old, weak man who was barely able to hold off a challenger from his own party.

If McDaniels gets the nod, he's an extremist loon whose own party had serious doubts about him and who only won through because of carpetbag money from a nationwide federation of other extremist loons.

Any way you cut it, it's better for the Democrats if McDaniel is the GOP nominee. He'll probably be easier to be beat, and if he can't be beat he at least goes to DC as a newbie and won't have developed the kind of "seniority/experience" halo, or cultivated deep pockets for as long, as Cochran has when it comes time for re-election six years from now.

If I was Travis Childers (or the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee), I'd be producing television ads right now, to be run in the next couple of weeks, aimed at getting the nomination for McDaniel. And of course I'd be working the opposition research hard for stuff to hit him with after he gets the nomination.

Here's the magic number for the Democrats in Mississippi: Get Childers within 5 points of McDaniel and keep him there.

If they can do that, Republican money has to continue flowing into Mississippi -- money that could have gone to Louisiana or North Carolina -- to defend the seat for the GOP.

Childers might even win, but that's not the real point. The real point is that he can give Mary Landrieu and Kay Hagan a chance to move their states out of "tossup" status and into "Democrat hold" territory.

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