Last night Mississippi Republicans voted in a Senate primary between incumbent Thad Cochran, a hard-line conservative who votes with his party on everything, and challenger Chris McDaniel, a hard-line conservative who will also vote with his party on everything but will say a bunch of crazy stuff as well. McDaniel appears to have won, but failed to win clear a majority since a third candidate pulled in a tiny sliver of the vote. Cochran and McDaniel will probably head to a runoff.
Democrats are trying to convince reporters that a McDaniel victory would give them a chance to win in November. Politico reports, “private Democratic polling has shown that the party’s nominee, former Rep. Travis Childers, would start a general election statistically tied with McDaniel.” This significant-sounding claim is much less significant if you translate two key terms. “Private Democratic polling” means internal polling, which is systematically biased, selectively leaked in order to spin the news media. “Statistically tied” means behind by a small margin.
What this means is that the most favorable polling still shows Democrats losing the seat even if McDaniel wins the nomination. As Nate Cohn shows, a majority of Mississippi is comprised of white Evangelicals who vote almost unanimously Republican in every election no matter what. So the only real question at stake is whether Mississippi’s Republican senator is a boring partisan or an entertainingly crazy one.