GETTING UNDER THE NUMBERS – AN EXAMINATION OF FORREST COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI VOTING IN THE FIRST PRIMARY AND THE RUNOFF
Every analysis of the Mississippi debacle has focused on county data, but no one as of yet has broken down the data to the precinct level, but that’s where the real analysis takes place.
One county where McDaniel really underperformed relative to the first primary was Forrest (Hattiesburg), where a 12-point McDaniel lead on primary night (actually a 10-point lead thanks to a math error in McDaniel’s favor) became a narrow 51-49 McDaniel win.
It’s in places like Forrest where this precinct analysis really tells a lot, because it’s here, far from the Delta and Hinds County, where McDaniel lost the election.
The official canvass shows that McDaniel won the county 5524-4316 over Cochran in the primary (although the correct McDaniel number is 5265). The runoff, however, was much closer with McDaniel up just 5574-5345.
There are 33 precincts in Forrest County. Obama won 14 and Romney 19. Cochran won the Obama precincts by 926-614 (59-39) in the primary, and won them 1754-677 in the runoff (72-28) with an increased turnout of 55%.
McDaniel won the Romney precincts by 4651-3390 in the primary (57-42) and by 4897-3591 in the runoff (58-42). Turnout was up just 4% in the Romney precincts, versus 55% in the Obama precincts.
And as was the case with the statewide analysis, the more Democratic an area was, the more motivated the vote was for Cochran. And unfortunately the more Republican an area was, the worse the turnout got.
Obama received 65% or more in 12 precincts and Cochran’s margin went from 533-393 (56-42) to 1302-453 (74-26) in the runoff. Turnout in these precincts was up an incredible 86%.
Nine precincts gave the president margins of 4-1 or better and Cochran’s margin went from 262-150 (62%-36%) to 883-188 (82%-18%) – a jump of 154% in the turnout and an incredible 82% for Cochran.
In the four most hard-core Democratic precincts that gave Obama margins exceeding 20-1, Cochran’s 53-21 margin in the primary (raw votes – 72%-28%) jumped to 350-27 or 93% of the vote. Turnout jumped 410% in these four precincts.
There are three precincts where the President won more than 99% of the vote – margins of 100-1. Cochran won these precincts 28-1 in the primary and 204-8 in the runoff with an incredible turnout boost of 631%.
Now let’s look at the Republican side because you can’t control what the enemy does, but you can control what you do. Unfortunately the McDaniel campaign did little to juice up the troops in Forrest County. I noted before that turnout was up just 4% in the Romney precincts, but it gets even worse in the more Republican areas.
Romney won 65% or more in 17 precincts and McDaniel won these handily in the primary (4247-2936 or 58%-40%) but he hardly budget the needle here, winning these precincts by 4485-3025, adding just 149 votes to his margin (versus an additional 709 votes for Cochran in the 65%+ Obama precincts.) Turnout was up just 3%.
In those nine precincts where Romney won 80% or more, McDaniel won a solid 3147-1585 margin in the primary, or 65%-33%. And he did even better in the runoff, winning 68-32 with a margin of 3352-1606. But turnout here was up just 3% over the primary (versus 154% in the Obama 80%+ precincts). McDaniel added 184 votes to his margin here over the primary, but Cochran added 583 votes in the 80% Obama precincts.
Three precincts gave Romney more than 90% of the vote and McDaniel easily won them 494-217 in the primary (68%-30%), but turnout in these precincts was actually DOWN by 2% in the runoff. McDaniel won these precincts by a bigger margin (517-194 or 73%-27%), but the inability to turn out a bigger vote in these precincts, and hundreds of others like them around the state, doomed his candidacy.
Thad Cochran energized and motivated left-wing, mostly African-American voters to come out to the polls. They did it through hard street work and not “vote fraud.” Unfortunately, the McDaniel campaign was too timid to make an issue of this in paid media, choosing instead to rely on positive mush with vague themes over letting Republican voters know what is at stake.
Lessons from this defeat: never take your base for granted, kill your enemy and never take your foot off their neck til all the votes are counted.