United States Senate election in Mississippi, 2014

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United States Senate election in Mississippi, 2014

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  CochranThad(R-MS) (cropped)1.jpg Travischilders (cropped).jpg
Nominee Thad Cochran Travis Childers
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 378,481 239,439
Percentage 59.9% 37.9%

Mississippi Senate Election Results by County, 2014.svg
County Results
Cochran:      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%      80–90%
Childers:      40-50%      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%      80–90%

U.S. Senator before election

Thad Cochran
Republican

Elected U.S. Senator

Thad Cochran
Republican

The 2014 United States Senate election in Mississippi was held on November 4, 2014 to elect a member of the United States Senate. Incumbent Republican Senator Thad Cochran, first elected in 1978, ran for reelection to a seventh term.[1] Primary elections were held on June 3, 2014. The Republican primary required a runoff between Cochran and Tea Party candidate Chris McDaniel on June 24, 2014. After narrowly winning the runoff, Cochran defeated Democratic nominee Travis Childers, a former congressman, with 60% of the vote.

Background[edit]

Thad Cochran was first elected to the Senate with a plurality of the vote in a three-way race in 1978. He was reelected with at least 61% of the vote in 1984, 1990, 1996, 2002, and 2008.

Cochran was the last incumbent senator up for reelection in 2014 to declare whether he would run, causing widespread speculation that he would retire.[2][3] Despite being urged to declare his intentions, Cochran said in August 2013, "I don't have a fixed date. But [I will decide] by the end of the year. You don't want to rush into these things."[2] On November 12, he announced that he would reveal his plans by the end of the month.[4] On December 6, he confirmed that he would run.[1]

Cochran's fundraising ability, powerful Senate committee assignments, and very high approval ratings meant that he was considered "unbeatable".[2] Mississippi Democratic Party Chairman Rickey Cole said that "in the very likely event that he does [run], we don't foresee a major Democratic challenger emerging."[5] Had he chosen to retire, a "stampede" was predicted in the Republican primary[6] and Democrats believed that a "properly positioned" candidate could have been competitive in the general election.[2]

Republican primary[edit]

The United States Senate Republican primary election in Mississippi, 2014 took place on June 3, 2014. Incumbent Republican Senator Thad Cochran, who has served in the position since 1978, ran for reelection to a seventh term.[1] He was challenged for the nomination by State Senator Chris McDaniel, a Tea Party supporter, and Thomas Carey. Cochran and McDaniel received 49.0% and 49.5% of the vote, respectively. Since no candidate won a majority, a June 24 runoff election ensued.

Cochran defeated McDaniel in the runoff, 51% to 49%.[7][8] Controversially, Cochran's campaign invited Democrats to vote in the runoff, and Cochran-affiliated super PACs used racially charged themes in their primary ads, particularly the super-PAC All Citizens for Mississippi, which was funded (according to F.E.C. filings)[9][10] by a super-PAC affiliated with former governor Haley Barbour.[11]

Primary campaign[edit]

Chris McDaniel declared his candidacy on October 17, 2013.[12] He was immediately endorsed by the Club for Growth and Jim DeMint's Senate Conservatives Fund. McDaniel was initially thought to have no chance of beating Cochran in the primary,[2] as summed up by the Jackson Free Press, who remarked that if McDaniel challenged Cochran, it would be the "beginning of [the] end of [his] political career".[13] Republican lobbyist Henry Barbour, the nephew of former Governor Haley Barbour, said: "I think he will get his head handed to him, and that will be what he deserves. [But] it's a free country."[14] Rather, McDaniel was believed to have declared his candidacy in the hope that Cochran wouldn't run, so that he could get "first crack" at the support of Tea Party groups and donors ahead of a competitive primary.[13]

Although the race was initially considered uncompetitive, McDaniel proved a serious challenger. Polling showed the lead swinging between the two and it eventually became a "50%-50% race".[15]

The race was considered a marquee establishment-versus-Tea Party fight and significant because Mississippi is the poorest state and Cochran's seniority and appropriating skills contrasted with the junior status of the rest of the state's congressional delegation.[16] McDaniel was endorsed by politicians including Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum and organizations including Citizens United, Club for Growth, FreedomWorks, Madison Project, National Association for Gun Rights, Senate Conservatives Fund and Tea Party Express. By contrast, the Republican establishment rallied around Cochran, who was endorsed by the National Rifle Association and National Right to Life.

The race was described as "nasty"[17] and full of "bizarre" twists.[18] McDaniel's campaign attacked Cochran for being "an out-of-touch, big-spending Washington insider" and Cochran's replied that "McDaniel's voting record in the state Senate does not match his conservative rhetoric." Each side accused the other of distortions and outright lies.[19]

Cochran ran on his incumbency, seniority and the fact that he would become the Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee if the Republicans retook control of the Senate.[20][21] In addition to ideological differences, the race also highlighted geographic divides in the state Republican Party.[22][23]

Tea Party blogger scandal[edit]

In May 2014, a scandal emerged when Clayton Thomas Kelly, a McDaniel supporter, allegedly entered a nursing home where Cochran's bedridden wife was living and took pictures of her.[17] Kelly posted the images as part of a video on his blog, intending to advance the rumor that Cochran was having affairs while his wife was receiving care.[19][24] Four people were arrested in connection with the incident.[19] The connection to the McDaniel campaign was disputed. One of the arrested included McDaniel ally Mark Mayfield, who was vice chairman of the state's Tea Party.[25] In response, McDaniel said, "the violation of the privacy of Mrs. Cochran [was] out of bounds for politics and reprehensible."[26]

Race card scandal[edit]

External image
The Tea Party Intends To Prevent You From Voting. Several ads such as this one invoked or leveraged racist themes. Several ads of a similar nature were distributed via Twitter and resulted in a request for censure in front of the National GOP. Photo provided via The Hill (newspaper).[27][28]

A second scandal emerged during the primary when racially charged pro-Cochran ads used such "code words" as "food stamps".[29][30] Charges first surfaced[31] that a small group of elderly Democratic women activists calling themselves Citizens for Progress were behind the controversy, but later facts as well as money trails show[32] that money exchanged hands multiple times between Citizens for Progress[33] and Mississippi Conservatives PAC.

After the fallout of the primary election, Missouri Republican Party chairman Ed Martin wrote an op-ed calling for the censure of Henry Barbour for his role in the funding[34] of racially themed ads, as well as the censure of "any Republicans who were involved in the racist ads."[35] He also called for Barbour's censure at an RNC summer meeting in Chicago.[36]

Senator Ted Cruz appeared on the Mark Levin Show to discuss the Mississippi primary. He called for an investigation,[37] saying, "the ads they ran were racially charged false attacks".[38]

Primary election results[edit]

The presence of a third candidate, Thomas Carey, opened the possibility that neither Cochran nor McDaniel would win a majority.[17] Indeed, no candidate did, so a runoff between McDaniel and Cochran was required, and was held on June 24.[39] The runoff was generally seen as advantageous to McDaniel.[40][41]

Republican primary results[42]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Chris McDaniel 157,733 49.5%
Republican Thad Cochran (incumbent) 156,315 49.0%
Republican Thomas Carey 4,854 1.5%
Total votes 318,902 100.0%

After the election, the Hinds County Sheriff's Office announced it was investigating three McDaniel supporters who were locked inside the local courthouse, where primary ballots were held, on election night.[43]

Runoff election[edit]

Runoff results by county:
  Cochran—80–90%
  Cochran—70–80%
  Cochran—60–70%
  Cochran—50–60%
  McDaniel—80–90%
  McDaniel—70–80%
  McDaniel—60–70%
  McDaniel—50–60%

The runoff was scheduled for June 24, three weeks after the primary. Despite trailing in most of the polls,[44] Cochran won with 51% of the vote to McDaniel's 49%. McDaniel once again won big in his native Pine Belt and in the heavily populated suburban Memphis DeSoto County, but Cochran got a surge in votes from African Americans who took advantage of the mixed primary. Many credited Cochran's win to the increase in black voters. Cochran won by 3,532 votes in the most Democratic, African-American precincts in Hinds County (the state's largest county, and home to Jackson). These precincts made up nearly half of Cochran's margin of victory.[45]

Republican primary runoff results[46]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Thad Cochran (incumbent) 194,932 51.00% +2.00%
Republican Chris McDaniel 187,265 49.00% −0.50%
Total votes 382,197 100.00% 0.00%

Endorsements[edit]

Thad Cochran

U.S. Senators

U.S. Representatives

U.S. Governors

Statewide officeholders

Organizations

Chris McDaniel

U.S. Senators

  • Rick Santorum, former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania, candidate for 2012 Republican Presidential Nomination.

U.S. Representatives

  • Ron Paul, former U.S. Representative from Texas, candidate for 2012 presidential nomination[52]

U.S. Governors

  • Sarah Palin, former Governor of Alaska, Republican Vice-Presidential candidate in 2008[53]

Mississippi state legislators

Local officeholders

Other individuals

Organizations

Media

  • Mississippi Gun News[65]
  • Right Wing News[66]

Democratic primary[edit]

Former Congressman Travis Childers had stated that he was interested in running, particularly if Cochran retired.[67] With Cochran facing a competitive primary, Childers announced in February 2014 that he was running.[68] Childers won the Democratic primary with 74% of the vote.

Candidates[edit]

Declared[edit]

Declined[edit]

Results[edit]

Primary results by county:
  Childers—>90%
  Childers—80–90%
  Childers—70–80%
  Childers—60–70%
  Childers—50–60%
  Childers—40–50%
Democratic primary results[76]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Travis Childers 63,548 73.9%
Democratic Bill Marcy 10,361 12.1%
Democratic William Compton 8,465 9.9%
Democratic Jonathan Rawl 3,492 4.1%
Total votes 85,866 100.0%

General election[edit]

Campaign[edit]

Childers campaigning for Senate

Childers described himself as a "moderate to conservative" Democrat, highlighting his vote against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and his opposition to new gun-control measures, abortion and same-sex marriage.[77]

Predictions[edit]

Source Ranking As of
The Cook Political Report[78] Likely R November 3, 2014
Sabato's Crystal Ball[79] Safe R November 3, 2014
Rothenberg Political Report[80] Safe R November 3, 2014
Real Clear Politics[81] Likely R November 3, 2014

Polling[edit]

Poll source Date(s)
administered
Sample
size
Margin of
error
Thad
Cochran (R)
Travis
Childers (D)
Other Undecided
Public Policy Polling November 15–17, 2013 502 ± 4.4% 50% 33% 17%
Rasmussen Reports March 26–29, 2014 750 ± 4% 48% 31% 9% 12%
Rasmussen Reports June 25–26, 2014 750 ± 4% 46% 34% 10% 9%
Public Policy Polling July 10–13, 2014 691 ± 3.7% 40% 24% 5%[82] 31%
41% 26% 33%
CBS News/NYT/YouGov July 5–24, 2014 850 ± 5.7% 47% 32% 17% 5%
CBS News/NYT/YouGov August 18 – September 2, 2014 976 ± 4% 46% 31% 9% 15%
CBS News/NYT/YouGov September 20 – October 1, 2014 826 ± 4% 46% 35% 3% 16%
CBS News/NYT/YouGov October 16–23, 2014 654 ± 7% 50% 28% 2% 20%

Results[edit]

Mississippi's US senate election, 2014[83]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Thad Cochran (Incumbent) 378,481 59.90% −1.54%
Democratic Travis Childers 239,439 37.89% −0.67%
Reform Shawn O'Hara 13,938 2.21% +2.21%
Total votes 631,858 100.00%
Republican hold Swing −0.87%

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Mississippi Senate race 2014: Guessing game over Thad Cochran run". Politico. August 8, 2013. Retrieved August 9, 2013.
  3. ^ Raju, Manu (May 20, 2013). "Thad Cochran: Too early on 2014". politico.com.
  4. ^ Cahn, Emily (November 12, 2013). "Cochran To Reveal Future Plans By End of the Month". Roll Call.
  5. ^ "AP analysis: No smooth road for U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran if he runs". blog.gulflive.com. October 27, 2013.
  6. ^ a b "Speculation continues over Cochran's seat in the U.S. Senate: If a Senate seat opens, expect a stampede". Mississippi PEP. July 23, 2012. Retrieved July 22, 2013.
  7. ^ Todd, Chuck (June 4, 2014). "Mississippi Runoff Bad News for Thad Cochran". NBCNews.com. New York City: NBCUniversal. Retrieved June 4, 2014.
  8. ^ Burns, Alexander (June 24, 2014). "COCHRAN WINS". Politico. Retrieved June 25, 2014.
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  10. ^ "REPORT OF RECEIPTS AND DISBURSEMENTS" (PDF). Federal Election Commission. October 15, 2014.
  11. ^ Erickson, Erick (July 15, 2014). "CONFIRMED: Senate Republican Leaders Paid for Attacks Against Conservatives". RedState.com. Retrieved August 29, 2014.
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  13. ^ a b R.L. Nave (October 15, 2012). "Sen. Chris McDaniel to Announce Beginning of End of Political Career". Jackson Free Press. Retrieved October 17, 2013.
  14. ^ Abby Livingston (September 25, 2012). "Mississippi Republicans Wait for Cochran's Decision". Roll Call. Retrieved November 12, 2013.
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  19. ^ a b c Bobby Harrison (June 1, 2014). "Bruising Senate battle nears finish". DJournal. Retrieved June 3, 2014.
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  66. ^ Hawkins, John (February 18, 2014). "Right Wing News Endorses Chris McDaniel for Senate in Mississippi". Right Wing News. Retrieved February 28, 2014.
  67. ^ a b Blake, Aaron (November 15, 2013). "Ex-Rep. Travis Childers (D) considering run for Mississippi Senate seat". Washington Post. Retrieved November 19, 2013.
  68. ^ a b Schultheis, Emily (February 28, 2014). "Travis Childers to run for Senate in Mississippi". POLITICO. Retrieved February 28, 2014.
  69. ^ a b c Harrison, Bobby (February 22, 2014). "No decision yet by Childers on Senate race". Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. Retrieved February 26, 2014.
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  71. ^ Wagster Pettus, Emily (January 10, 2014). "Ex-Republican running as Dem for US Senate in Mississippi". Sun Herald. Biloxi, Mississippi. Associated Press. Retrieved January 13, 2014.
  72. ^ Ken Strachan (September 5, 2012). "Cochran Retirement Could Be Interesting". Jackson Free Press. Retrieved July 1, 2013.
  73. ^ "AP analysis: No smooth road for U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran if he runs". Mississippi Press. October 27, 2013. Retrieved February 26, 2014.
  74. ^ Perry, Brian (July 31, 2013). "PERRY/Who runs if Cochran doesn't?". Neshoba Democrat. Retrieved October 18, 2013.
  75. ^ Sam R. Hall (October 17, 2013). "State Sen. Chris McDaniel to challenge U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran". The Clarion-Ledger. Retrieved October 19, 2013.
  76. ^ "2014 Democrat Primary Results". Secretary of State of Mississippi. June 13, 2014. Retrieved July 9, 2014.
  77. ^ Alexander Burns (May 30, 2014). "CAn a Democrat win in Mississippi?". Politico. Retrieved June 3, 2014.
  78. ^ "2014 Senate Race Ratings for November 3, 2014". The Cook Political Report. Retrieved September 20, 2018.
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  80. ^ "2014 Senate Ratings". Senate Ratings. The Rothenberg Political Report. Retrieved September 20, 2018.
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  82. ^ a b Shawn O'Hara (Reform)
  83. ^ "Maine General Election 2014". Mississippi Secretary of State. November 4, 2014. Retrieved December 22, 2014.

External links[edit]