Republicans Defeated Eric Cantor But Couldn’t Defeat Thad Cochran
Last week we rebutted claims that Democrats elected Dave Brat when in fact the strongest anti-Cantor vote came out of the most Republican of precincts.
The same was true in Mississippi yesterday, but there was one big difference. Republicans were motivated to come out and dump Cantor, but in Mississippi, Democrats were even more motivated to come out and salvage Thad Cochran, and McDaniel didn’t do enough to pump up his own base to match it.
The McDaniel campaign not only didn’t rebroadcast robocalls and radio ads aimed at pulling out Democrats to Republicans, they completely took their foot off Cochran’s neck by only running positive spots in the runoff election.
The Cochran forces motivated Democrats to come out and vote for him. The Cantor campaign motivated Republicans to come out and vote against him. The McDaniel campaign failed to use Cochran’s brazen appeal to Democrats to motivate Republicans. And the numbers prove it.
Our analysis of the Cantor defeat took apart fallacious claims that “Democrats” elected Dave Brat by illustrating a mathematical correlation between Brat’s additional vote and the share of the precinct vote for Mitt Romney in 2012. A similar correlation exists here, with an important difference that cost Chris McDaniel a seat in the United States Senate.
Turnout was up dramatically in Democratic counties. Obama won 31 counties in Mississippi and Cochran went from 59% to 63% of the vote. Turnout was up 32% while Cochran gained 14,895 votes to 5,246 for McDaniel or 74% for Cochran and an additional margin of 9,649 votes. Overall, Cochran won the Obama Counties by 21,363.
McDaniel carried the 51 counties that voted for Romney over Obama by 51.7-46.6% but made only slight gains here in the runoff, winning 52.6-47.4%. Turnout was up just 14% in these counties. Cochran gained 19,139 votes and McDaniel 21,109 for an additional margin of 1,970 – nowhere near enough to offset Cochran gains in the Obama counties.
McDaniel won the Romney counties by 15,102 votes, but it wasn’t enough. In fact, McDaniel won counties were Obama won less than 72% of the vote. It was heavy turnout from the ones at the top that took him out.
As was the case with Virginia’s 7th Congressional, the more the analysis is broken out the clearer the trends. Cochran gained 4.0% in counties Obama carried, 4.7% in those he won with 55% or more, 5.4% in those 60% or more for Obama, 5.8% in those he won 2-1 or better, 9.6% in 3-1 Obama Counties and 12.4% in counties the President carried by 4-1 or better.
Similarly, as noted, turnout was up 32% in Obama Counties, and increased 36% in those voting 55% or more, 40% in 60%+ counties, 43% in 2-1 Obama Counties, 48% in 3-1 Obama Counties and 51% in those counties voting for Obama by 4-1 or better.
Turnout was up 94% in tiny Jefferson County, the nation’s most heavily African-American. Cochran gained 19 points to win 74% of the vote while adding 198 new votes to just 16 for McDaniel, adding 182 votes to the Cochran margin.
The patterns in the Republican counties parallel, but not as closely and the exact reasons will be determined in a precinct analysis. Cochran made significant gains in Pontotoc (23% Obama), Rankin County (24% Obama), Lincoln (34% Obama), Lee (36% Obama), Madison (42% Obama), Lafayette (42% Obama), Monroe (42% Obama) and Forrest (45% Obama).
Cochran grew up in Pontotoc County and Lee County is right next door. Obama won a hair under a third in the two counties and Cochran won them 55-44 in the primary. Turnout was up 20% in these two counties in the runoff and Cochran carried them by 57-43 or more than 2,000 votes, adding 555 votes to his margin from the primary.
Rankin and Madison are the Jackson suburbs and clearly are two areas where McDaniel badly underperformed. Cochran won these counties 55-45 in the primary, but turnout was up 16% in the runoff and Cochran expanded his margin to 57-43, adding 2,772 votes to his margin.
Lafayette County contains Oxford and Cochran expanded his 64-35 margin to 67-33 with a turnout boost of 18% and an additional 710 votes on the margin.
Lincoln and Monroe contain the majority black cities of Brookhaven and Aberdeen, while Hattiesburg, county seat in Forrest County, is nearly half black. No doubt aggressive targeting in the African-American community flipped these three counties, which voted for McDaniel 51-48 in the primary and for Cochran 52-48 in the runoff. Cochran added 1,425 votes over the runoff in these three counties alone, gaining 1,794 votes to just 369 for McDaniel
Turnout was up only 11% in these three counties which in all probability was in African-American precincts. While runoff numbers are not yet available, Cochran won the 14 Obama precincts in Forrest County by 237 votes in the primary while losing the 19 Romney precincts by 1,245. I am certain the Obama precincts were much more generous to the Senator this time around.
But overall in counties Romney won by 2-1 or better, McDaniel’s 59-41 win topped his 57-42 in the primary, but turnout was up only 13% in these. In those precincts Romney won 3-1 or better, turnout was up just 11% and in those he won 4-1 or better, turnout was just 6% higher than in the primary. McDaniel won 68% in the 80% plus Romney precincts.
A heavy increase in black voters defeated Chris McDaniel, but it was more than that. His inability to use Cochran’s tactics to his advantage led to mushy showings in his own base (Jones County dropped from 84% McDaniel to 82%) and ultimately defeat in the runoff election.
There’s a big lesson for conservatives here: make sure your base knows the stakes when the enemy proposes to raid an open primary. The Cochran victory, on top of a similar Democrat-fueled win for RINO Lindsey Graham, is sending a powerful message to conservatives in open-primary states that it’s time to restrict Republican primary elections to Republican voters.