Cennamology Chief Editor
A few posts ago, I speculated that if Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel lost the Republican senate primary to Sen. Thad Cochran, the Tea Party would have faced its Waterloo, and their influence would greatly decrease as the fear of incumbent senators losing to a Tea Party challenger would be quelled by a casualty-free cycle.
Well, we will not know the outcome until June 24th, as neither candidate received the required 50 percent of the vote to win the nomination, as a third candidate named Tom Carey won 1.5 percent of the vote. This outcome was not speculated until a few days before the election.
McDaniel received 49.5 percent of the vote, and Cochran received 49 percent of the vote. They were separated by less than 2,000 votes. At one point in the night, I remember looking at the results on TV and it showed that they were separated by only 5 votes. Remember that next time you think that your vote doesn't matter!
On the flipside, a McDaniel victory means that Democrats will have a shot at winning the seat. Even though Mississippi is a very red state, a Democratic nominee will only need to win about one in four white people to win the seat, as the state is 33 percent African American. The African American population in Mississippi voted 98-2 for Obama in 2012, about 6 percent higher than the national average. Therefore, Democratic nominee Travis Childers will need to focus on African American turnout and convincing just 25 percent of white people to vote for him. It's difficult, but not impossible if McDaniel is the nominee (which looks likely).
Childers alone may not even have to convince voters that McDaniel is unelectable, as it may be very likely that McDaniel may do it on his own. McDaniel, for the lack of a better word, is a nut. Since he is a former talk radio host, finding crazy things he has said in the past is easier than finding a Ravens fan in Baltimore. He has said that birth control leads to moral decay and "sex on demand" in America, that "a dollar bill can buy a mansion in Mexico," and another weird racist comment that "mamacita" means "hey hot mama." Long story short, it is not hard to make the case that this weirdo should be kept far away from the U.S. Senate. A McDaniel primary victory will give Jon Stewart many months of material.
Although McDaniel winning the primary is far from a sure thing, the Tea Party will avoid their Waterloo even if he does come up short. They have proven that they can still give incumbents a legitimate scare, so unfortunately we will have to deal with their influence on Republican incumbents for at least two more years.
That is, unless McDaniel loses in November. If McDaniel loses in November, it will prove once and for all that Tea Party candidates are no longer electable in general elections. The only year where Tea Party candidates were elected to the Senate against viable, well-funded Democratic contenders was in 2010. If a Tea Party candidate loses a general election in MISSISSIPPI, establishment groups would have won the argument that Tea Party candidates are unelectable, and this case would stick to primary voters once and for all. Republican primary voters will be sick and tired of losing winnable seats, especially if Republicans come up short in winning the Senate in November.
Ironically, if McDaniel loses, the Tea Party by simply forcing a runoff will not lose their influence. However, if McDaniel does win, they once again face a potential Waterloo in November. If McDaniel loses to Childers, it will be the reddest state in which a Tea Party candidate lost, confirming that they are unelectable. The fact that the race is going to a runoff, which was unexpected, changes the dynamics of this race entirely for the Tea Party.
The runoff will make June 24th a very exciting day - with the Mississippi runoff AND the Maryland gubernatorial primary taking place. It is set to be a very big day for politics!