Will Mississippi mudslinging give Dems a chance in the south?

Democrats are gleeful that those divisions could open the door for their nominee, centrist former Rep. Travis Childers, to woo disaffected Cochran supporters. That new math could complicate the GOP calculus for the six seats the party needs to flip Senate control.

But a McDaniel victory would also embolden national Tea Party groups who have spent heavily on his behalf. They say if the once-underdog state senator is successful in knocking off the 36-year incumbent, he could have a ripple effect for other long-shot conservative primary challengers.

“If Chris McDaniel is able to win, he will breathe life into several more primaries coming up,” said David Bossie, president of Citizens United. His group backed McDaniel, but now it’s eyeing upcoming Senate primaries in Tennessee and Kansas with a new hope against other longtime incumbents.

Cochran’s team and the GOP establishment have taken aggressive — and at times unusual — steps to prevent that outcome.