GOP establishment wonders: Is it time to abandon Thad Cochran?

posted at 6:41 pm on June 4, 2014 by Allahpundit

Realistically, Cochran’s got maybe a 10 percent chance of winning the runoff. McDaniel’s base is excited to knock off the incumbent and outside groups like the Senate Conservatives Fund are prepared to keep pumping in money to send a conservative to the Senate. Cochran’s base, which includes lots of casual voters who favor him for name-recognition reasons alone, probably can’t be bothered to trudge to the polls for the second time in three weeks. That’s why insurgent candidates almost always pull the upset once they make it to a runoff. The only way to get Cochran voters back out there on June 24th is for his allies to spend boatloads more money tearing down McDaniel and promoting Cochran. And if it doesn’t work and McDaniel wins the runoff anyway, then you’ve spent three more weeks tearing your party’s new nominee apart for no reason.

The NRSC insists it’s “all in” for Cochran, but don’t kid yourself. They’re saying that as a precaution, until Team Establishment can huddle and come to a decision. They may end up going in again for Cochran, but rest assured, it won’t be “all in.” And some outfits, like Karl Rove’s group American Crossroads, won’t go in at all.

“The Club for Growth and Senate Conservatives Fund will bankrupt themselves just to make their point. The NRSC, the chamber don’t have that luxury—they’re looking at a Republican majority,” one pro-Cochran strategist said…

American Crossroads, for one, announced Wednesday afternoon that it wouldn’t get involved in the contentious runoff. “We have completed our work on Senate primaries this cycle … this is not our fight,” spokesman Paul Lindsay said. Crossroads didn’t air ads in the primary, but it donated $120,000 to the pro-Cochran super PAC Mississippi Conservatives, according to Henry Barbour, the nephew of former Gov. Haley Barbour, who runs the group.

Cochran faces disadvantages in the runoff that range from his lethargic campaign effort to the likelihood of a smaller, more-conservative turnout in three weeks and the prohibition on Democratic crossover voters participating in the election.

Establishment groups are reportedly meeting today to decide how to play it. At a minimum, it sounds like they’re going to stop trying to tie McDaniel to that repellent invasion of Mrs. Cochran’s privacy in her nursing home, since obviously they don’t want to hurt the likely nominee at this point any more than they have to. The campaign from here on out will be strictly (or mostly) pro-Cochran, not anti-McD. But look: Given the long odds and the fact that Cochran palpably didn’t want to run this race in the first place, isn’t backing off and letting the guy magnanimously concede the decent thing to do at this point? C’mon.

Cochran created his own problems, too, frustrating national Republicans last year by wringing his hands over whether to retire and surprising many in the Republican establishment when he announced in late December, two months after McDaniel announced his campaign, that he would seek reelection to a seventh term.

“I don’t think Cochran was as prepared for this challenge as other incumbents who have dealt with similar challenges. He didn’t have a lot of money or a real campaign infrastructure,” says a strategist for the McDaniel campaign. Mississippi heavyweights such as former governor Haley Barbour and his sons, Austin and Henry; the state’s current governor, Phil Bryant; and former Senate majority leader Trent Lott all stepped in to boost Cochran.

Cochran supporters worked to turn out Democratic voters, placing an ad in a Jackson-based newspaper with a largely African-American readership. (That strategy is limited in the next three weeks because Mississippi election law forbids anybody who voted in Tuesday’s Democratic primary from voting in the runoff election of the opposite party.) In the end, though, even his strongest backers were expressing reservations.

Sure sounds to me like he wanted to retire, was fully prepared to, but then was begged by establishment GOPers both inside and outside of Mississippi after the shutdown in October to hang on just a bit longer in the name of crushing the tea-party challenge back home. For all his weaknesses on the stump, running a long-time incumbent like Cochran again was obviously the best play for pro-pork, pro-business-lobby Republicans to thwart a guy who’s positioning himself as another “defund”-style Cruz conservative. They propped Cochran up with an on-the-fly reelection campaign, he played along, and together they almost pulled it off. Almost. Why not pat the guy on the back for pouring 40 years’ worth of federal dollars into the trough in Mississippi and let him play golf instead of running him around for another month? Especially since, if they’re not “all in” against McDaniel, Cochran’s odds of winning are even smaller than everyone expects.

In lieu of an exit question, read Philip Klein on why the tea party’s already won in Mississippi regardless of what happens in the runoff. The goal here, always, is to pressure Republicans in Congress into voting a more conservative line. The best way to do that is to elect conservatives, but merely scaring the shinola out of an incumbent in a losing effort is enough to make the rest of the caucus sit up and take notice.


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I heard the Cochran campaign was asking Ds to vote for him, which was an indication of how desperate they were.

cat_owner on June 4, 2014 at 8:13 PM

That’s almost true. It wasn’t the Cochran campaign proper. It was a group supporting Cochran who ran an ad in the Jackson, MS, market targeting Democrats to cross over and vote for Cochran.

Still, it is a good indication of how desperate they were.

yaedon on June 4, 2014 at 8:16 PM

Angle won Independents by 8. Democrats voted 93% for Reid. Republicans only voted 78% for Angle.

Raquel Pinkbullet on June 4, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Do you have a link? I knew she had lost double-digit% of republicans and that it cost her the race, but I didn’t know it was over 20%.

topdawg on June 4, 2014 at 8:21 PM

I know very little about McDaniel, but we better be sure he isn’t Mourdock, Angle, or Aiken. In these situations you have to ask is the “grass greener” if we change horses?

Tater Salad

Or George Allen, Rick Berg, or Mitt Romney. But yeah, we’d be much better off if Lugar aka Obama’s favorite republican…who is currently working to elect democrats….was re-elected instead. You know, because rewarding folks for bad behavior is the best way to make them stop that bad behavior.

Here’s an idea….if you don’t want any more Aikens, stop helping democrats make our candidates out to be the devil simply because they aren’t experts on the female reproductive system.

xblade on June 4, 2014 at 8:23 PM

I heard the Cochran campaign was asking Ds to vote for him, which was an indication of how desperate they were.

cat_owner on June 4, 2014 at 8:13 PM

That’s almost true. It wasn’t the Cochran campaign proper. It was a group supporting Cochran who ran an ad in the Jackson, MS, market targeting Democrats to cross over and vote for Cochran.

Still, it is a good indication of how desperate they were.

yaedon on June 4, 2014 at 8:16 PM

Also, it worked. McDaniel was less than 1500 votes away from winning outright last night. I would guess more than 1500 Democrats voted for Cochran on Tuesday.

yaedon on June 4, 2014 at 8:24 PM

yaedon on June 4, 2014 at 8:24 PM

It makes sense that they would vote for the old man. After all, they would far rather have a RINO than a conservative.

Anyone know how the Milton Wolf campaign is going? Can’t find out anything about it.

cat_owner on June 4, 2014 at 8:28 PM

Sen. Cochran is not happy about The Atlantic article. Or rather, his staff/campaign/office is not happy about it.

Cindy Munford on June 4, 2014 at 8:30 PM

Also, it worked. McDaniel was less than 1500 votes away from winning outright last night. I would guess more than 1500 Democrats voted for Cochran on Tuesday.

yaedon on June 4, 2014 at 8:24 PM

Their internal polling told them they could not win inside the GOP…they had to go to the Dems to push him through. They also went to outside groups to do the ads…so the campaign was not directly involved.

d1carter on June 4, 2014 at 8:32 PM

Do you have a link? I knew she had lost double-digit% of republicans and that it cost her the race, but I didn’t know it was over 20%.

topdawg on June 4, 2014 at 8:21 PM

http://elections.nytimes.com/2010/results/senate/exit-polls#nevada

Raquel Pinkbullet on June 4, 2014 at 8:32 PM

At a minimum, it sounds like they’re going to stop trying to tie McDaniel to that repellent invasion of Mrs. Cochran’s privacy in her nursing home, since obviously they don’t want to hurt the likely nominee at this point any more than they have to.

Wouldn’t count on it. There won’t be a Democratic primary for the runoff, so there’s still an opportunity for plenty of Democrats to go vote in the Republican runoff.

Make no mistake, McDaniel is in much stronger position after taking the lead this first time around. But that doesn’t mean it’s all over. McDaniel may have only been half a point from winning, but Cochran was only about a full point from winning. That’s probably close enough for the GOPe to pull out all the stops.

There Goes the Neighborhood on June 4, 2014 at 8:33 PM

Cindy Munford on June 4, 2014 at 8:30 PM

That one hit too close to home…it is the undiscussed issue in the campaign.

d1carter on June 4, 2014 at 8:35 PM

No one has explained why Thad did not address his supporters at his campaign headquarters…I don’t know that anyone has asked about it…?

d1carter on June 4, 2014 at 8:38 PM

yaedon on June 4, 2014 at 7:51 PM

Thank you so much for all of your posts, especially this one! I can’t add anything to them, except for this.

No one who voted in the dem primary will be able to vote in the run-off election. I believe that dooms Cochran, should he decide to stay in the race.

kakypat on June 4, 2014 at 8:47 PM

There Goes the Neighborhood on June 4, 2014 at 8:33 PM

Can Ds vote in the runoff?

cat_owner on June 4, 2014 at 8:48 PM

So….no to calling you Susan? Say, OT, but do you prefer black labs over Bay retrievers?

Bmore on June 4, 2014 at 8:54 PM

This one is over, and the younger members of the spending Repubs should be looking hard at their own vulnerabilities. Here’s looking at you, Kelly Ayotte.

MTF on June 4, 2014 at 9:00 PM

Thank you, but there are too many crazies (not Joana’s kind) lurking so I’d prefer not to. Hesitated even mentioning it here given what happened before. So please don’t, but thanks anyway.

Glad people saw how out of touch Cochran was, though. Looks like some people beat me to mentioning it.

bluegill on June 4, 2014 at 8:07 PM

WHAT????????????? You did link it. You need help. (Although, I see you did manage to get another Twitter acct.).

Thad Cochran just deleted his tweet praising Bergdahl:
http://twitchy.com/2014/06/04/tweet-praising-bowe-bergdahl-deleted-from-sen-thad-cochran-account/

(Ps- my tweet is on Twitchy!! Such a moment)

bluegill on June 4, 2014 at 7:52 PM

Barred on June 4, 2014 at 9:01 PM

http://elections.nytimes.com/2010/results/senate/exit-polls#nevada

Raquel Pinkbullet on June 4, 2014 at 8:32 PM

Thank you.

19% of “Conservatives” went against Mourdock in Indiana.

17% went for Reid, FOR REID, in Nevada.

16% went against O’Donnell in Delaware.

12% went against Buck in Colorado.

This proves to me one thing, establishemt republicans had such a bad case of sore loser syndrome that they cost themselves senate seats in Indiana, Nevada, and Colorado. They have only themselves to blame.

topdawg on June 4, 2014 at 9:07 PM

Here’s looking at you, Kelly Ayotte.

MTF on June 4, 2014 at 9:00 PM

She’s been a big disappointment.

topdawg on June 4, 2014 at 9:07 PM

In a previous thread I said that absentee ballots had not yet been counted. I misspoke. They have been counted. It’s affidavit ballots that haven’t been counted. By law I believe they have to be counted by this coming Tuesday.

greggriffith on June 4, 2014 at 9:37 PM

I’m going with McDaniel by 3 points. What you saw last night was every last drop of votes the Cochran campaign, with the help of Dem crossovers, could muster. There are no more votes to be had. In contrast, McDaniel didn’t get all the votes that are out there for him – he will peel off a few thousand from Cochran in the runoff, from people who voted Cochran because they didn’t think McDaniel could win. Combine that with votes he won’t get from Dem crossovers who won’t see the point in showing up a second time, and you have McDaniel in a close but comfortable victory.

greggriffith on June 4, 2014 at 9:45 PM

Disclaimer: All predictions assume that no more loons like the blogger/photographer or this rocket surgeon come out of the woodwork.

greggriffith on June 4, 2014 at 9:48 PM

Can Ds vote in the runoff?

cat_owner on June 4, 2014 at 8:48 PM

Not if they voted in the Dem primary yesterday. The only people who can vote in the runoff are those who voted in the Republican primary, or didn’t vote at all.

greggriffith on June 4, 2014 at 9:52 PM

greggriffith on June 4, 2014 at 9:45 PM

Carey’s voters need somewhere to go.

kakypat on June 4, 2014 at 9:53 PM

greggriffith on June 4, 2014 at 9:52 PM

Thanks, good to know. Looking good for Chris.

cat_owner on June 4, 2014 at 10:04 PM

Their internal polling told them they could not win inside the GOP…they had to go to the Dems to push him through. They also went to outside groups to do the ads…so the campaign was not directly involved.

d1carter on June 4, 2014 at 8:32 PM

That’s what I figure, too.

yaedon on June 4, 2014 at 10:09 PM

kakypat on June 4, 2014 at 8:47 PM

I’m flattered! Thank you for your kind words.

I wasn’t aware of our MS law regarding runoffs until you and someone else mentioned it earlier this evening. That gives me much more confidence that McDaniel will prevail on the 24th.

It’s good to know another Mississippian on HA.

yaedon on June 4, 2014 at 10:46 PM

Hmnnn..does anyone really think that Cochran actually posts on his Twitter account!!! He looks to me like he can barely figure out an IPad or his cell phone..etc. you know it is someone on staff that did it..maybe he told them to…but even if he did it shows how he jumps the gun..he just acts like he doesn’t have it all together..a fading senior..time to hang it up..

Xango Annie on June 4, 2014 at 10:54 PM

I’m going with McDaniel by 3 points. What you saw last night was every last drop of votes the Cochran campaign, with the help of Dem crossovers, could muster. There are no more votes to be had. In contrast, McDaniel didn’t get all the votes that are out there for him – he will peel off a few thousand from Cochran in the runoff, from people who voted Cochran because they didn’t think McDaniel could win. Combine that with votes he won’t get from Dem crossovers who won’t see the point in showing up a second time, and you have McDaniel in a close but comfortable victory.

greggriffith on June 4, 2014 at 9:45 PM

Since those who voted in the Democratic primary are barred by law from voting in the runoff, this seems the most plausible outcome to me. I wouldn’t be all that surprised to see the margin at over 3 points.

yaedon on June 4, 2014 at 10:54 PM

It’s good to know another Mississippian on HA.

yaedon on June 4, 2014 at 10:46 PM

I pay income tax in Mississippi do I count?

kringeesmom on June 4, 2014 at 11:09 PM

It’s good to know another Mississippian on HA.

yaedon on June 4, 2014 at 10:46 PM
I pay income tax in Mississippi do I count?

kringeesmom on June 4, 2014 at 11:09 PM

Hmmm…Is your residence here?

Just kidding. MS is happy to accept anyone who will claim it…

yaedon on June 4, 2014 at 11:16 PM

Barred on June 4, 2014 at 9:01 PM

Lolz! I’m not sure Susan understands how all this works yet. Still though.I had to give her props where props were due.Matter of fact I need to tell Axe congrats as well. ; )

Bmore on June 4, 2014 at 11:17 PM

Hmmm…Is your residence here?

Just kidding. MS is happy to accept anyone who will claim it…

yaedon on June 4, 2014 at 11:16 PM

I’m across the border in Alabama, but our paycheck comes from Mississippi ergo we must pay income tax in 2 states. We are glad to see our tax dollars working so hard in MS.

kringeesmom on June 4, 2014 at 11:42 PM

I’m across the border in Alabama, but our paycheck comes from Mississippi ergo we must pay income tax in 2 states. We are glad to see our tax dollars working so hard in MS.

kringeesmom on June 4, 2014 at 11:42 PM

From your original comment I deduced the situation was something like that.

Declare your allegiance:

Roll Tide!

Or War Eagle?

yaedon on June 5, 2014 at 12:00 AM

If the poll positions were reversed, and Cochran was leading by 2000 votes, would you be arguing McDaniel should concede?

Heh.

Wouldn’t count on it. There won’t be a Democratic primary for the runoff, so there’s still an opportunity for plenty of Democrats to go vote in the Republican runoff.

Make no mistake, McDaniel is in much stronger position after taking the lead this first time around. But that doesn’t mean it’s all over. McDaniel may have only been half a point from winning, but Cochran was only about a full point from winning. That’s probably close enough for the GOPe to pull out all the stops.

There Goes the Neighborhood on June 4, 2014 at 8:33 PM

Democrats who voted in the Dem primary Tuesday cannot vote in the runoff. Democrats who did not vote may, because like most Southern states, MS does not register by party affiliation.

╪╪╪

We are in unknown territory, and who has the advantage is mere speculation.

Typically incumbents who score less than 50% are in trouble, but this was essentially a dead heat. Were there Cochran supporters who assumed he would win and didn’t vote the first time? Will the Carey voters turn out at all? If so, who will they vote for?

There is no data on this situation. Anyone making assertions to the contrary is blowing it out their rump.

Adjoran on June 5, 2014 at 2:05 AM

The problem for McDaniel is the nursing home intrusion isn’t something “the establishment” is pushing, it’s a criminal investigation.

All four arrested are McDaniel supporters, two pretty closely tied to him. Will a Democratic prosecutor offer them a deal to testify against McDaniel or someone in the campaign – say, in October?

Adjoran on June 5, 2014 at 2:07 AM

Decisions, decisions….

Swedish Patriot on June 5, 2014 at 4:28 AM

Adjoran on June 5, 2014 at 2:07 AM

McDaniel disavowed this activity and is not involved.

gracie on June 5, 2014 at 7:17 AM

Democrats who voted in the Dem primary Tuesday cannot vote in the runoff. Democrats who did not vote may, because like most Southern states, MS does not register by party affiliation.

This is true, but the vast majority of Democrats who are interested and motivated enough to consider crossing over already did so on Tuesday, or they voted in their own primary. Unless there is a major, organized effort to bus otherwise uninterested and unmotivated Democrats to the polls on the 24th, I don’t expect a flood of Democrats to vote in the runoff.

╪╪╪

We are in unknown territory, and who has the advantage is mere speculation.

Typically incumbents who score less than 50% are in trouble

Your second statement nullifies your first. We are not in unknown territory. There have been plenty of similar situations in the past, and that experience teaches us that the challenger is likely to prevail. Cochran’s voters are supporting the status quo, and that can be a very difficult thing to get excited about. This is especially true when the status quo is a distant, out-of-touch incumbent who doesn’t want to be in the race to begin with. The excitement is on the side of the challenger, and that motivation gap (again, according to past experience) will probably be the difference in the runoff.

, but this was essentially a dead heat.

A dead heat in which the incumbent came in second place and was under 50%. That’s not a good position for an incumbent to be in, as you so accurately asserted.

Were there Cochran supporters who assumed he would win and didn’t vote the first time?

That’s possible, I suppose. But anyone so disconnected and unmotivated as to make that assumption with everything that’s been going on down here in MS is highly unlikely to vote in the runoff, either. I don’t expect a lot of this type of voter on the 24th.

Will the Carey voters turn out at all? If so, who will they vote for?

Carey is further right than McDaniel. A person who voted for him is likely to vote for McDaniel over Cochran or not vote at all. Everything else being the same, Carey voters could break almost 2 to 1 for Cochran (highly unlikely) and McDaniel would still break 50%.

There is no data on this situation.

This is factually inaccurate. As already stated, there have been many similar situations in the past. No one has a crystal ball here, sure. But there is enough experience with runoffs and the dynamics of this runoff in particular to make educated predictions. In fact, you did so yourself with your assertion that “incumbents who score less than 50% are in trouble.”

Anyone making assertions to the contrary is blowing it out their rump.

Adjoran on June 5, 2014 at 2:05 AM

Oh. Okay. See you on the 24th.

yaedon on June 5, 2014 at 7:31 AM

Will a Democratic prosecutor offer them a deal to testify against McDaniel or someone in the campaign – say, in October?

Adjoran on June 5, 2014 at 2:07 AM

Who’s blowing it out their rump with no data?

yaedon on June 5, 2014 at 8:10 AM

yaedon on June 5, 2014 at 7:31 AM

Roll Tide, Roll!

kringeesmom on June 5, 2014 at 8:26 AM

Roll Tide, Roll!

kringeesmom on June 5, 2014 at 8:26 AM

I married into a family of rabid Bama fans.

My wife’s grandmother claims to be Baptist, but she had what I can only describe as a shrine to the Bear in her house for years and years…

yaedon on June 5, 2014 at 8:30 AM

Why not pat the guy on the back for pouring 40 years’ worth of federal dollars into the trough in Mississippi and let him play golfskirt around with his mistress instead of running him around for another month?

FIFY

cptacek on June 5, 2014 at 10:03 AM

yaedon on June 5, 2014 at 8:30 AM

At our church we wear crimson and houndstooth for pastor appreciation day!

kringeesmom on June 5, 2014 at 10:29 AM

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