Could Democrats Beat Chris McDaniel?

Republican Senate candidate Chris McDaniel of Mississippi
National Journal
Alex Roarty
See more stories about...
Alex Roarty
June 24, 2014, 7:45 a.m.

Make no mis­take: Chris McDaniel (R) walks in­to to­night’s Mis­sis­sippi Sen­ate primary run­off the fa­vor­ite. That’s the as­sess­ment of just about every Re­pub­lic­an op­er­at­ive keep­ing a close eye on the race — even those friendly with Sen. Thad Co­chran (R). With that in mind, some GOP op­er­at­ives are already start­ing to con­tem­plate what would hap­pen if McDaniel makes it to the gen­er­al elec­tion.

— The oppo hits leveled against the state sen­at­or will leave a mark to last long after Tues­day. State party lead­ers, the Bar­bours, and of­fi­cials at the NR­SC have done everything from call­ing McDaniel a crim­in­al to link­ing him with white su­prem­acists. Just as bad: They’ve said re­peatedly that should McDaniel win the nom­in­a­tion, Trav­is Childers (D) could go on to win in the fall.

— Demo­crats think Childers could po­ten­tially beat McDaniel, too (though it would be very dif­fi­cult; not­ably, most strategists rank Mis­sis­sippi as a much less prom­ising pick-up op­por­tun­ity than either Ken­tucky or Geor­gia). And they’re de­lighted be­cause the GOP’s at­tempts to paint McDaniel as an ex­trem­ist isn’t a mes­sage that needs any tweak­ing for the fall. If the goal is to win over 100,000 or so Co­chran sup­port­ers, Demo­crats might start by simply du­plic­at­ing an ad Co­chran’s cam­paign is run­ning now.

— In the weeks after Tues­day’s run­off, watch to see if McDaniel is able to re­con­cile with any part of the Co­chran cam­paign, the NR­SC, or maybe most im­port­antly, Haley Bar­bour him­self. Any such meet­ing of the minds would be a big sym­bol for Mis­sis­sippi voters and no doubt of­fer a boost to his fun­drais­ing. Re­pub­lic­ans have made awk­ward re­la­tion­ships like this work be­fore: Just re­mem­ber Mitch Mc­Con­nell and Rand Paul in 2010.

McDaniel’s best as­set is that he’d still be run­ning in Mis­sis­sippi, in a midterm year, at a time when Pres­id­ent Obama‘s ap­prov­al num­bers are nearly dip­ping in­to the 30s in some polls. But even in a good state and strong en­vir­on­ment, there could be a lot of drama there the next five months — if McDaniel does, in fact, win Tues­day night.
— Alex Roarty

What We're Following See More »
Priebus Asks Party to Unite Behind Trump
3 hours ago
Sanders Upsets Clinton in Indiana
4 hours ago

Despite trailing Hillary Clinton by a significant margin, Bernie Sanders wasn't going the way of Ted Cruz tonight. The Vermont senator upset Clinton in Indiana, with MSNBC calling the race at 9pm. Sanders appears poised to win by a five- or six-point spread.

Ted Cruz Bows Out, Effectively Ceding the Contest to Trump
5 hours ago

And just like that, it's over. Ted Cruz will suspend his presidential campaign after losing badly to Donald Trump in Indiana tonight. "While Cruz had always hedged when asked whether he would quit if he lost Indiana; his campaign had laid a huge bet on the state." John Kasich's campaign has pledged to carry on. “From the beginning, I’ve said that I would continue on as long as there was a viable path to victory,” said Cruz. “Tonight, I’m sorry to say it appears that path has been foreclosed."

Trump Wins Indiana, All but Seals the Nomination
5 hours ago

The Republican establishment's last remaining hope—a contested convention this summer—may have just ended in Indiana, as Donald Trump won a decisive victory over Ted Cruz. Nothing Cruz seemed to have in his corner seemed to help—not a presumptive VP pick in Carly Fiorina, not a midwestern state where he's done well in the past, and not the state's legions of conservatives. Though Trump "won't secure the 1,237 delegates he needs to formally claim the nomination until June, his Indiana triumph makes it almost impossible to stop him. Following his decisive wins in New York and other East Coast states, the Indiana victory could put Trump within 200 delegates of the magic number he needs to clinch the nomination." Cruz, meanwhile, "now faces the agonizing choice of whether to remain in the race, with his attempt to force the party into a contested convention in tatters, or to bow out and cede the party nomination to his political nemesis." The Associated Press, which called the race at 7pm, predicts Trump will win at least 45 delegates.

Inside the AP’s Election Operation
10 hours ago