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Thad Cochran’s campaign reeks of flopsweat

thad-cochran-with-kay-webber-afp

Thad Cochran’s senate campaign is shrinking before our very eyes. Despite burning through millions of dollars and the credibility of the NRSC, the geriatric, though apparently still randy, Cochran finished behind challenger Chris McDaniel. Without the large scale expenditure of funds by go-along-get-along groups like the Chamber of Commerce and Haley Barbour’s “conservative” PAC and scurrilous attacks from the NRSC and the clownish Brad Dayspring that would have shamed a crack ‘ho the race would have been a blow out. And, let’s face it, the only reason the establishment wants Cochran in the game is because in his dotage he will vote for whatever pork barrel spending they tell him to.

As we head towards a runoff election on June 24, the establishment is in a panic. We don’t know if Cochran is actually capable of understanding what is happening but we’re pretty sure his “executive assistant” will ‘splain matters to him. They have come up with a strategy that is utter genius, by which I mean epic numbskullery. The establishment has concluded that the best way to haul Cochran’s carcass over the finish line is by encouraging Democrats to turn out for the runoff.

From the New York Times:

Senator Thad Cochran’s supporters opened Mississippi’s Republican Senate runoff on Wednesday by signaling that they would treat the race like a general election and seek the votes of Democrats and independents during the three-week campaign against State Senator Chris McDaniel.

“I don’t care if you’re from Yazoo City or the Coast, or if you are white or black,” said Henry Barbour, a Republican activist who runsMississippi Conservatives, a pro-Cochran political action committee. “We’re going to make certain that everybody knows they have a stake in this, and the state needs somebody to represent the interest of all three million Mississippians.”

Cochran’s campaign is in desperate straits. It was run totally based on big money and they’ve found out that people, not dollars, show up at the polling booth.

Several advisers, speaking candidly and anonymously, said that competing in the June 24 runoff will likely require the campaign to shift resources from television and radio advertising into pure get-out-the-vote operations. It will mean raising concerns about McDaniel’s electability and delivering an issue-driven message about what McDaniel’s policy views would really mean for Mississippi.

It takes more than money to gin up a respectable GOTV effort when you are starting at ground zero and when some of the large money donors look to be pulling the plug. Karl Rove’s American Crossroads group has said they will not be involved, others seem to be quietly saying the same thing:

It’s an excruciating decision for all of Cochran’s supporters, from the National Republican Senatorial Committee to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. And even though they’re reiterating their support, it already looks like they are ready to scale back, and that means less money and toned-down attacks.

This is the time when wishful thinking also sets in:
Mississippi state Sen. Lydia Chassaniol, a Cochran supporter who serves in the legislature with McDaniel, predicted the incumbent would benefit from an influx of voters who never seriously imagined that Cochran could lose. She called the Tuesday vote – which left both Cochran and McDaniel with about 49 percent of the vote and short of a majority – a “clarion call” for complacent voters.

“There are all sorts of people in Mississippi who are appreciative of Sen. Cochran’s efforts over the years,” she said. “A lot of them probably thought he was going to walk back into office.”

Asked whether that meant recruiting non-Republicans, specifically, Chassaniol answered: “I think that 3 million Mississippians and everyone who cares about the state ought to take a real hard look at this.”

This is muddled thinking at its worst. It is really so muddled that Thad Cochran may have come upon it himself while eating cream of wheat in the basement apartment he rents from his “executive assistant.”  But let’s give it a look and see how cogent the strategy is.

The key problem for Cochran is that he has to hold all the votes he garnered in the primary AND add enough new votes, or suppress enough of McDaniel’s turnout, to put himself over 50%. One has to presume that Cochran is more likely to bleed support, as his voters might assume he will lose the runoff and just not show up, than McDaniel, whose supporters smell blood, though very thin, old, and bought-and-paid-for blood, in the water. Unless the McDaniel campaign utterly melts down, and that is a possibility with any campaign run by a challenger, it is fairly safe to predict that Cochran, without a viable GOTV effort, will hemorrhage support. 

This leads us to the repeated statements by Cochran’s camp that they are going after Democrat votes. What Haley Barbour and others woofing about appealing to Democrats aren’t telling you is that Democrats who voted in the Democrat primary are barred by law from voting in the Republican runoff. Yes, in Mississippi you can vote in whatever primary you wish but you can’t later on vote in another party’s runoff. From the Jackson (MS) Clarion-Ledger, Runoff Rules Explained:.

If a person voted in the Democratic primary Tuesday, he or she cannot vote in the June 24 Republican runoff — and vice-versa.

Obviously, the pool of Democrats who sat our their own primary but who will be sufficiently motivated to show up to vote in the GOP runoff is very small.

The attacks against McDaniel by the pinheads at the NRSC and Cochran’s deep pocket owners focused on his inelectability (where have we heard that word before). In Molly Ball’s epic Thad Cochran, the last of the naive Republicans there is this pathetic vignette:

Barbour’s super PAC has distributed talking cards that, on the front, juxtapose McDaniel with Todd Akin, the failed Missouri Senate candidate, and on the back say, “This candidate has been rated HE: Highly Embarrassing.” When opened, the card plays an audio clip of McDaniel talking about mamacitas and boobies.

In order to get Democrats to vote for Cochran, you have to believe that Democrats who DID NOT vote in the primary will turn out to vote for the strongest (allegedly) GOP candidate. This is balderdash. Nonsense. If Democrats do turn out they are going to pull the lever for McDaniel because Cochran WILL beat the Democrat and McDaniel might not.
It is fair to ask what the Mississippi Democrat party says about this. Let’s look at the leftwing Deep South Progressive. This appeared before the June 3 primary when Cochran had the best chance of getting Democrat votes.

An ad for incumbent Senator Thad Cochran is urging Democrats to vote for him in the Republican primary Tuesday.

“The decision on who is going to be our next senator is going to be made in the republican primary,” the full page ad, which ran in the Mississippi Link, reads. “We’re asking democrats to cross over and vote in the republican primary to ensure our community’s interest is heard.”

Mississippi Democratic Party Chairman Rickey Cole called the ad “a sign of desperation.”

Rickey Cole doesn’t buy it.

“If he had wanted to be a senator for all Mississippians, he should’ve at least run a campaign that appealed to all Mississippians. You don’t go from bragging for six months that you voted 100 times against Obamacare, and then in the last three days of the campaign start asking Democrats for their support. That borders on schizophrenia.”

“Don’t do it,” Cole said in a message to Democrats. “If you are a Democrat, we’ve given voters a good choice in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate and Congress. We have candidates who are viable, who can win, and we need to stick to our candidates and choose our own nominee and let Republicans choose their nominee.”

thad cochran democrat ad
So it is fair to say that Cochran will not be getting GOTV effort from Democrats because everyone thinks that McDaniel is more vulnerable in a general election than Cochran.
In short, Cochran is depending upon a veritable tsunami of voters in the runoff who were so disengaged from politics that they couldn’t be bothered to vote in the primary.  His reelection strategy is based on three points:
  • Cochran’s new and untried GOTV effort will bring back to the polls his supporters from in the primary.
  • Cochran is counting on expanding his vote count in the runoff by appealing to Democrats AND to Republicans and independents who couldn’t be bothered to vote.
  • Democrats are supposed to vote for Cochran because Cochran’s campaign says McDaniel is unelectable.
This is not a three legged stool. It is a three pronged enema composed of denial, wishful thinking, and LSD flashbacks.

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