Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 11, 2016

Mississippi Runoff Results: Thad Cochran Wins

Cochran won a runoff Tuesday and is favored to win a seventh term. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran overcame the odds Tuesday to win a contentious Republican runoff and is now favored to win a seventh term.

Two weeks after the stunning loss by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., state Sen. Chris McDaniel hoped to become the latest challenger to unseat a sitting member of Congress in a GOP primary.

But, after finishing 1,400 votes behind McDaniel in the June 3 primary, Cochran was able to expand the electorate  — a feat, pro-Cochran Republican insiders cautioned in the days leading up to the runoff, that hadn’t been achieved in Mississippi statewide elections in recent decades.

Cochran led 51 percent to 49 percent when the Associated Press called the race with 98 percent of precincts reporting. He is now strongly favored against former Rep. Travis Childers, a Democrat, whose potential for success was largely based on a McDaniel victory.

This Republican-leaning state hasn’t elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1982. President Barack Obama, who struggled across the South in both of his elections, took just 44 percent of the vote in Mississippi in 2012.

The Cochran campaign kicked off the runoff with a plan to target voters who hadn’t participated in either the Republican or Democratic primaries. Three weeks ago, Cochran underperformed and even lost counties where his campaign expected to succeed.

He also received major financial boosts from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which spent $175,000 in independent expenditures and helped raise more than $800,000 on Cochran’s behalf.

To enlarge the runoff electorate — which increased by more than 30,000 votes from the primary — Cochran and his allies expanded their outreach to blacks and Democrats who had not voted in the Democratic primary and were therefore eligible to vote on Tuesday. Mississippi does not register by party, so primaries and runoffs are open.

That appeared to work, as turnout surged in heavily black Hinds County by more than 7,000 votes and Cochran won it with 73 percent.

The campaign also altered its message to put even more emphasis on highlighting specific examples — county-by-county — where Cochran’s Senate influence directly benefited Mississippians. That paid off as well, as he won coastal Jackson County — which he lost in the primary before highlighting the shipbuilding jobs he’s supported through federal appropriations — and increased his vote total there by more than 1,200.

McDaniel supporters were more vocal and energized than Cochran’s, and the state legislator’s backers included many longtime Cochran voters who were looking for a change — not necessarily because of a distaste for Cochran, but rather in an effort to send someone who could help change Washington.

The ability of Cochran to change the makeup of the electorate ensured his 36th year in the Senate wouldn’t be his last.

  • daroldstagner

    Well isn’t that terrific. McCain, the Chamber of Commerce and Democrats are abusing Republicans in Mississippi. Maybe McDaniel can run as an Independent in the general election. Wouldn’t that be lovely


    The Republican and Democratic parties have both FAILED the three million workers, and their families, without unemployment benefits since late last December. Over the past six months, these families have continued falling into financial ruin, while waiting for the extension to pass in the senate. The republicans have made every attempt to delay the senate vote, in order to render it too late to pass. The senate democrats and the president have done little to push through the extension vote, and have actually made the delay further possible to implement. When our government can give billions to the Ukraine people it has failed to give these American families the same courtesy. We can send our children to war, but not expect help for the families they leave behind. Shame on these two parties for lacking compassion, and common decency.

  • Manaphy

    Cochran only won because he had many democrat /Viggers vote in the REPUBLICAN primary.

  • zappa24

    I’m not sure what the Senate Democrats are supposed to do to get if passed since they do not have enough votes to break the Republican procedural filibuster, and the Republicans won’t budge. Blaming this on both parties ignores the political reality of the situation, it is completely on the Republicans that the unemployment benefits extension hasn’t passed.

  • Bad Mother
  • JohnnyAngel Advocacy Group

    Last you’ll hear of MS. for awhile…that’s good !!!

  • Gregory Williams

    Please do that – have that racist extremist freak run as a write in or an independent candidate please please please do that.

    And as to your rather stupid and clearly wrong assertion that democrats are abusing republicans in that state – HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA – You freaks just do not get that more and more Americans are rejecting the hate fueled stupidity and required ignorance of cult like conservatism and its unAmerican ideological nature.

    Continue to whine and gnash your teeth with the requisite spittle and foaming at the mouth … it is entertaining in ways you freaks do not get.

  • voltaic

    Funny stuff. Money still controls the outcome, since most clueless voters can’t think their way out of a paper bag and then the even less aware just don’t vote. While I detest the Tea Party, it would have been nice to see a Chamber of Commerce GOP go down.

  • zappa24

    It should be noted that many of the articles noting the massive advantage Cochran had in money spent took into account only money spent directly by the campaigns. It didn’t take into account money spent by outside groups either in support or against one of the two candidates. If you add that, the amount of money spent in an attempt to get McDaniel elected was nearly as much as the money spent in an attempt to get Cochran elected.

  • voltaic

    Thanks for that info.

  • Hetero Lingo

    Even though liberty and free enterprise are proven to be the most effective ways to unleash civilization’s advance, the natural uncertainty associated with them sometimes motivates insecure people to rebel against them.

  • Fido Shery

    Since our minds change with our efforts to adapt, the socialist narrative that man’s mind conceived and designed civilization must be false.

  • teapartyidiots

    Sane is good enough for me, and Cochran is at least sane.

  • Sam Sung

    In addition to threats of punishment, coercion refers to the control of options, decisions, and actions so that one has little choice but to act according to the will of others.

  • Al Bumen

    Liberty and free enterprise free us from the shackles of collective agreement required thousands of years ago when bands of our ancient ancestors obeyed their primitive collective instincts.

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