But McDaniel’s candidacy could create problems for Republicans. Mississippi’s special election rules are a little wonky: All of the candidates will run in a nonpartisan primary in November. If no candidate gets above 50 percent of the vote, the top two candidates advance to a run-off election. Mississippi is flush with Republicans: There are qualified statewide office holders, former statewide office holders, state legislators, and more who could credibly run. If Gov. Phil Bryant’s appointee to the seat (he gets to appoint a temporary replacement for Cochran who will likely run) fails to keep other candidates out of the race, the non-McDaniel Republicans could split the vote while McDaniel keeps enough of his core constituents to make it to the run-off.
If Democrats manage to take advantage of the highly Democratic national environment, get a strong candidate into the run-off, capitalize on McDaniel’s weaknesses, grab some Republican votes, and maintain a turnout advantage, they could take the seat.