It’s quite apparent that Chris McDaniel won the Republican vote in the Republican Senate primary in Mississippi last night, and lost the election due to crossover voters, but what we don’t know is exactly what effect those crossover voters had on the numbers.
Cochran won the race with less than 51 percent of the vote. But an election-day survey (not quite an exit poll, but perhaps we might treat it as one) by Independent Women’s Voice shows that he did so almost solely by reeling in Democrat ringers; Cochran wasn’t even close to McDaniel with Republicans.
The release on the poll…
Senator Thad Cochran’s margin of victory over challenger Chris McDaniel in yesterday’s Mississippi Republican Senate runoff election was based on votes from Democrats and Independents, according to a same-day survey of 500 voters fielded by Independent Women’s Voice on Tuesday, throughout the day.Among the 75% of survey respondents who said they “always” or “usually” vote Republican, Chris McDaniel defeated Cochran 52%-41%, with 7% refusing to say for whom they voted. Among those who said they “always” vote Republican, McDaniel defeated Cochran 59%-37%; among those who said they “usually” vote Republican, the vote was split at 46%-46%.Among the 4% of survey respondents who said they “always” or “usually” vote Democrat, Cochran defeated McDaniel 55%-23%, with 23% refusing to say for whom they voted. Among the 12% of survey respondents who said they usually split their ticket, Cochran defeated McDaniel 59%-27%.HOW DO YOU USUALLY VOTE?Always Usually Split Usually AlwaysDem Dem Ticket GOP GOPCochran 33.3% 57.9% 59.3% 45.8% 36.6%McDaniel 33.3% 21.1% 27.1% 45.8% 58.5%Refused 33.3% 21.1% 13.6% 8.4% 4.9%Fully 9% of survey respondents refused to say how they regularly voted.Among the 67% of survey respondents who identified themselves as Republicans, McDaniel defeated Cochran 49%-44%, with 7% refusing to say for whom they voted; among the 23% of survey respondents who identified themselves as Independents, Cochran defeated McDaniel 45%-41%, with 14% refusing to say; among the 3% of survey respondents who identified themselves as Democrats, Cochran won 71%-12%, with 18% refusing to say.PARTY AFFILIATIONGOP Independent DemCochran 43.9% 44.8% 70.6%McDaniel 48.7% 41.4% 11.8%Refused 7.4% 13.8% 17.6%The survey was conducted on behalf of Independent Women’s Voice by GEB International, with live callers dialing out to a random sample of 500 likely-voting likely Republicans, based on their previous history of voting in GOP primaries. Survey respondents were screened to ensure that only those who said they voted in yesterday’s runoff election were surveyed. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 4.38% at the 95% confidence interval.Fifty percent of McDaniel voters gave as their single biggest reason for supporting him variants on wanting change or a younger person. The top issue specifically cited was ObamaCare, with 17.7% citing that McDaniel has pledged to repeal it, another 11.1% saying McDaniel would vote to defund ObamaCare, and an additional 9.9% citing the special exemption from ObamaCare that Congress is enjoying.
McDaniel will contest the results of the election, as it’s possible Cochran’s vote included a sufficient number of ineligible Democrats (namely, crossover voters who had voted in the Democrat primary June 3 and then illegally voted for Cochran in last night’s GOP primary) to carry the election. Failing that, there is the possibility of McDaniel running as a write-in candidate in November.
As an aside, David Horowitz blistered the Cochran camp for what he called “treachery” in a Breitbart piece today…
Throughout the primary season, GOP elites have accused the conservative base of helping Democrats by challenging Republicans in primaries. The reality is that we are challenging these people precisely because they work in tandem with Democrat and empower them in growing government. Yet, despite the acerbic differences and acrimony, the conservative base had always soldiered on and supported the Republican establishment candidate in the general election. Conservative were quick to do so with Mitch McConnell in Kentucky.
Now, the establishment has openly and unabashedly empowered Democrats to disenfranchise Republican voters in Mississippi by running on a platform of big government and playing the race card.
They may have the ability to continue fighting their base in the short-run, but no party can be at war with its base forever and succeed. It’s unclear whether the Republican Party will remain viable in the long term. But either way, these people will eventually be left without a home. At some point the base will either reassert itself or start a new party, and Democrats will not be there to help them in a general election. Live by the Democrats; die by the Democrats.
And a POLITICO piece today shows the extent to which the national Republican establishment was involved in helping Cochran secure the resources to win the Republican primary with Democrat votes…
Dogged ahead of the primary by complaints about a lackluster field program and an unfocused campaign message (and candidate), Cochran’s campaign moved swiftly to reorient its operations for a second election on June 24. Austin Barbour, a top Cochran adviser and former campaign manager for Sen. Roger Wicker, took over the leadership of the organization. Former state GOP Chairman Brad White joined the team to help drive the get-out-the-vote effort. Kirk Sims, up to that point the top staffer on the race, stepped back for personal reasons.
The NRSC gave its field staff a weekend off – and then redeployed them back to the state. Before the primary, the committee had several dozen campaign workers on the ground knocking on doors for Cochran. For the runoff, 45 staff members and volunteers returned. Targeting high-propensity Republican voters, they knocked on 50,000 doors between the two votes. From the basement of the NRSC, campaign workers placed 18,000 calls into Mississippi.
In Washington, a gang of senators dived back into the race. Just a week after the primary, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell headlined a fundraiser that raised more than $800,000 for Cochran. He told assembled supporters in no uncertain terms: “We are going to win it.”
Senators fired off big PAC checks to Cochran. Some worked the phones for him themselves, Wicker chief among them. NRSC senior staff, including executive director Rob Collins and finance director Heather Larison, squeezed every penny they could out of Washington for their embattled colleague. Haley Barbour, the former Mississippi governor, was dialing for runoff dollars as soon as the June 3 vote ended in a deadlock.
Most controversially – and perhaps most importantly – the Mississippi super PAC formed to support Cochran’s reelection shifted its resources dramatically from television advertising to get-out-the-vote operations. Depleted after an all-out effort ahead of June 3, the group went back to its biggest donors for more help. In one case, it secured a $100,000 check from Silicon Valley billionaire Sean Parker, on top of the quarter-million dollars the Napster co-founder had already given to the cause.
But this time, the Mississippi Conservative PAC didn’t spend a dime on television or radio. Instead, the group – headed by Republican National Committeeman Henry Barbour –spent untold sums identifying and turning out longer-shot voters, including non-Republicans and African-Americans who were unlikely to have participated in the first vote.
It will be fascinating to see the consequences of the Mississippi race on the GOP going forward. As Erick Erickson noted, relations between the party’s leadership and its base voters are declining to the extent Horowitz’ prediction about the party’s future might well come true…
Mississippi is a crystalizing election in that sense. Cochran is, for all intents and purposes, a marionette. His strings are pulled by staffers and lobbyists. They drop him onto the stage of the Senate and pull up a string to raise his hand. These puppeteers are so invested in keeping their gravy train going that they will, while claiming to be Republicans, flood a Republican primary with Obama voters to ensure their gravy train continues.
And to be clear, there is nothing wrong with that. They won fair and square. They changed who the electorate was, which was allowed under the rules.
But this becomes a longer term problem for the Republican Party. Its core activists hate its leadership more and more. But its leadership are dependent more and more on large check writers to keep their power. Those large check writers are further and further removed from the interests of both the base of the party and Main Street. So to keep power, the GOP focuses more and more on a smaller and smaller band of puppeteers to keep their marionettes upright. At some point there will be more people with knives out to cut the strings than there will be puppeteers with checkbooks. And at some point those people with knives become more intent on cutting the strings than taking the place of the marionettes.
It is a system that cannot perpetuate itself. Conservatives lost in Mississippi and it hurt. Ted Cruz and/or Rand Paul could have made the difference, but chose not to for a variety of mostly understandable reasons. Unfortunately for them and their allies, the opposition within the GOP does not play by the same rules. The reinforcements conservatives want to send are therefore less likely to be sent.
The establishment plays for keeps. Their income is dependent on doing so. A McDaniel win would have disrupted the flow of money and redirected a crony capitalist agenda through which many make millions. The establishment had far more to lose than conservatives had to gain and it showed. They should be commended.
Unfortunately for the Republican Party the fight continues. And as grassroots activists feel further and further removed and alienated from the party, it will become harder and harder to win. The slaughter the GOP will inflict on the Democrats in November will be a bandaid of built in momentum. When the GOP inevitably caves on repealing Obamacare, opting instead to reform it in favor of their donors’ interests, we may just see an irreparable split. Then, and even worse, if party leaders and party base voters cannot reconcile themselves to a common candidate in 2016, God help us.